Category Archives: F. OTHER STUFF

Children and Snakes – Teaching the next generation.

It has been a while since our last blog. This has been a very tough year for all of us in Kenya. Hopefully things will start to improve soon as we love our country, it’s people and it’s wildlife but we all came close to the abyss this year. Security has been fine and in fact very good in our area except for having to replace our laptop and camera, but we have all suffered from the drop in visitors to Bio-Ken.

Since January this year we have released staggering number of reptiles back into the wild and have been able to teach a lot of young people about the importance of conserving all wildlife including reptiles and especially snakes. Here are a few pictures of where we have been and what we have been up to.

Tortoises Tortoises

Tortoises                                     More Tortoises

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Snakes

MERRY CHRISTMAS

On behalf of all of the staff and animals at Bio-Ken Snake Farm in Watamu, Sanda Ashe, my wife Clare and I would like to wish all our friends, family and Blog readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year for 2008. This was a hard year for us but very rewarding as well. The discovery of the Largest Spitting Cobra Species in the World Naja ashei has to, as James Ashe used to say, take the biscuit! Thank you to everyone for your great help on this especially my good friend Dr. Wolfgang Wuster who did all the hard work.

Picture from Wolfgang Wuster

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32 SNAKES RELEASED

On Friday 14th December we packed the baby snakes born this month at the snake farm, not for export to some unknown owner in Germany or New York, but for release into the best place for them, the African bush.

School holidays are here and it is time to give our children some of our time. We decided to take them to Kulalu, a camp on the Galana River that is in the ADC ranch buffer zone near Tsavo East National Park. The place is heaven on earth for anyone who relishes true wilderness in Africa. We take our Kenya Snake Safari clients there because it also has great catch and release snake areas and so felt our own children should get a chance to see and enjoy such wild and beautiful places as our clients do.

We took 20 baby East African Egg Eating Snakes Dasypeltis medici from two separate hatchings (12 and 8 ) and 11 hatchling Eastern Tiger Snakes Telescopus semiannulatus. We also took a rehabilitated Speckled Sand Snake Psammophis punctulatus that had been injured by a human that tried to kill it for the simple reason that it was a snake. The snake was much better now and ready for release.

Photos by Royjan Taylor
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All snakes were photographed on the 14th of December at Bio-Ken Snake Farm in Watamu when packed for the trip and released on the 15th December near Kulalu Camp, on the ADC – Kulalu Ranch, Tsavo by my children Eric and Joey Taylor and their friends Kyla and Kassi Conway, children of our friends and managers of Kulalu Camp, Nick and Gail Conway.

Photos by Clare Taylor

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It was great to see the children relishing in the idea of releasing baby snakes into the wild and a great opportunity to teach the next generation about the importance of conserving all wildlife even the snakes.

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On the last day I caught a Speckled Bush Snake Philothamnus punctatus for them to hold and release.

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A great trip and a well earned break for all of us. Back to Watamu today and I can’t wait to hear the latest news of snakes at the Snake Farm. Bonface the Foreman confirmed by phone that all is good.


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OFF TO TSAVO TOMORROW

Just a short one today. I am taking eight clients to Tsavo tomorrow and we will be staying at Kulalu camp for two nights. Kulalu is on the bank of the Galana river to the south of Tsavo East national park. The last time I was there with clients, we found several snakes. One of them was a nice large female Puff Adder Bitis arietans in good condition. We caught her to show the guests the enormous fangs that they have, took some photos and then released her back into the wild were we found her. This is such a nice feeling to do without having to relocate the animal as is usually the case with our work.

I will miss my family as usual, Eric is six and a half now and he has got used to it, but Joey is only four and she really does get upset whenever she knows that I am going away. Clare my wife is great and always finds a way to cheer her up until I get back. Usually evidence of nice ice creams and other nice things consumed by them can be seen around when I get back. Hopefully we will find something interesting so that I can give them a good story with a picture or two to go with when I get back.

Bellow is a short unedited video clip of the puff adder from our last trip

Video clip by Bonnie Sare (Snake safari – September 2007)

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WALTER’S BIO-KEN EXPERIENCE

Today I thought I would introduce you to the Bio-Ken experience. This is a program that we created here at Bio-Ken for our visitors that do not have a specific research project. It accommodates students of all ages that wish to come and work with us to gain some practical experience in working with reptiles and especially snakes which we are internationally recognised for. We are well known for our high standards in reptile husbandry and snake bite treatment and Students from all over the world come and stay in Naja House our research accommodation at Bio-Ken Snake Farm. More info can be found on our web site www.bio-ken.com under research. Walter Schere is a student with St Lawrence University (USA) and is currently doing the Bio-Ken experience for a month, he has been here for about two and a half weeks now and this is from his Journal yesterday.

28 November 2007 (Day 17)

Today was an extremely exciting day because Ferry and I had arranged to go on a Vine Snake hunt to a place that Royjan had suggested. Royjan also the gave the go ahead to do this trip. We left at 7:30 and hiked down the road and took a right down a small dirt road. On the road we met Dengris (a local old snake man who is actually good at finding snakes). He reeked a bit of palm wine and didn’t speak to much English. We headed into the bush after that. We all split up looking from the ground to the sky. Dengris spotted a spotted bush snake, which we eventually caught. I missed it by two cm on the first shot but missed. Ferry got it after that with a snake noose. I held it and it bit me pretty good. Hadn’t been bit by snake in a while. Forgot it didn’t hurt at all. We released the snake there. We hiked quite a bit longer before we hit the “Jimba cave”. At the trail head we let a chameleon loose and waited for a bit to see if it would attract either a boomslang or a vine snake.

We hiked down to the cave afterwards. Nothing like I was expecting it to be. We were in a low (height) forest/bush land and all of sudden there was a huge cave that just went down. Ferry and Dengris had to ask permission to enter (Hodi…) because this was a real witchdoctor’sw cave. There were three or four chambers to the cave, the ceiling had some holes to let light in. A huge buttress tree had grown straight out of the cave through a massive hole. We caught a couple jumping frogs in the cave. In the cave we had to give a couple coins into a dish as a thank you to the higher spirits.

We hung out a bit more at the cave entrance setting the chameleon loose again. Still nothing. After that try we headed off to another small forest. Took us a while to get there. We set the chameleon loose there and waited for almost an house, still nothing. So we headed home, which happened to pass by Dengris house. Ferry climbed a coconut tree to get us some mondafu (young coconut). Had to dehusk the coconut and chopped the top off. The coconut milk (more like) water tasted ok, nothing great. Ate some of the flesh inside, which was a weird substance, kind of of jelly like. Came back to the Snake Farm and ate some leftovers for lunch.

Bonnie and I finished putting the metal bars away and tidying up the back of house area. Sanda seemed pleased with the end result which was nice. There wasn’t to much more going on after that. Fed two of the baby bush vipers but the one didn’t eat. Still to skittish. Dengris came back and told us there was another snake call for a “python”. When we got to the village and the young girl showed us where she had seen it it was no where to be found. Did a lot of good walking today. Pretty tired now. Ferry, Katie, and Alison are coming over for dinner. Were having samaki, skuma wiki, and ugali. Should be a delicious meal.

Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Walter Schere

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Photos by Alex Maluta


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WELCOME TO SAVING SNAKES

Bio-Ken Snake Farm in Watamu, Kenya is actively involved in the saving of snakes. This is our first post and over the next few weeks we hope to introduce you to the active work we are doing in the field. Please check out our web site until then www.bio-ken.com Below is a picture of an Egyptian Cobra Naja haje that was saved from being beaten to death two years ago.The photograph was taken a last year by Anton Childs of Bio-Ken and although the snake has a broken back and therefore will never be released as you can see she is looking great and has helped us address the subject of killing snakes unnecessarily with this excellent portrait.

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