Saint Lucia’s Snakes in the Spotlight

Staff from the Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT) and Forestry Department, along with representatives from Fauna & Flora International and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, mounted an exhibition at the Blue Coral Mall, Castries on July 15, 2016 as part of activities to commemorate World Snake Day, celebrated every year on July 16th. Saint Lucia has four living species of snakes, all of them found nowhere else in the world. Only one of the four species is venomous.

The exhibition, the first of its kind on-island, drew scores of curious onlookers hoping to catch a glimpse of the tiny harmless worm or thread snake, the tree-dwelling boa constrictor and the extremely venomous snake of the pit viper family – the fer de lance. Visitors listened in bewilderment as Forestry Officers explained that snakes are actually afraid of humans and will only strike if they feel threatened.

 A boa constrictor out of its natural habitat and on display at Blue Coral Mall.

A boa constrictor out of its natural habitat and on display at Blue Coral Mall.

“The exhibition was successful and we were happy to interface with a broad cross section of the public in an effort to educate them on the four different snake species found on St. Lucia. People typically have an innate fear of snakes and have all sorts of myths and misconceptions regarding them. Therefore, it is important that we host such activities in order to debunk those myths and teach people the facts about our snakes,” said Mr. Pius Haynes, Wildlife Officer of the Forestry Department.

A number of tokens were handed to individuals who were brave enough to view the exhibits, but not before they provided answers to questions posed to them from ‘snake experts’ on hand. According to SLNT’s Programme Assistant – Documentation Centre, Ms. Eleanor Maurille, “It was interesting to note that a few individuals were able to identify the various snake species found in Saint Lucia or to name the rarest snake in the world and its place of habitat. Some, on the other hand, had no clue, a clear indication that more needs to be done to educate the populace on the various wildlife species that inhabit our island.”

The activity presented the opportunity to educate individuals who may encounter these creatures and provided guidance on the best way to deal with the single venomous species to ensure their safety. It also sought to highlight the importance of snakes within our ecosystem as a greater awareness can help raise support to understand and live with these elusive animals.

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