Ivory Coast: Snake Island, the real story

by ladjate_20
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L'ile aux serpents

“This slender snake with a head that is weak or not distinct from the neck is particularly dangerous. As docile as it can be, it attacks man as much as it considers him a potential prey, which it could not swallow. The scales are smooth, very oblique. The nostril is located between two nasal passages and the internasal. The anal is whole. These snakes are very agile and aggressive, they even attack oxen, often without apparent reason.

Noc-turn, they live during the day in burrows. They like humid places and often bathe but would not survive a long snorkel. They are oviparous. Their diet includes insects, mammals, amphibians, birds and snakes. They can swallow eggs that are digested without breaking. When they attack, they dilate their neck transversely by straightening the cervical ribs and often throw a jet of venom, hence their name “spitter. “This snake is the Naja Laurenti of the Ivory Coast, commonly called Naja in India. You know the snake that dances to the ultrasonic sounds of the flutes. Yes yes there is in Ivory Coast. »

What you have just read is taken from a document published in 1963. It is an excerpt from Professor J’s research. Doucet. The title : The Snakes of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire /ORSTOM (Office of Scientific and Technical Research Overseas). From 1959 to 1963 after having captured a large number of these Najas, Professor J. Doucet. Doucet set out to find a place where these dozens of specimens could be released into the wild without posing a danger to the growing population.

At that time the ORSTOM was located on the current road from Dabou on the edge of the lagoon in Adiopodoumé. Today this site houses the headquarters of the CNRA at kilometer 17. Professor Doucet then had the idea to transfer his snakes to one of the smallest islands of the Abidjan archipelago, a short distance from the research center. The “snake island” was thus born in the Ebrié lagoon near Songon. It was used for 10 years as a herpetarium specialized in the breeding of all kinds of highly venomous snakes. Obviously the objective of this former colonist was not to capture these dangerous snakes to isolate them on the island for scientific research purposes only.

Why did he undertake this strange project? Quite simply for the money. Indeed, a centiliter of Naja’s venom costs a fortune since it is used to make antivenom serums. An antivenom is a biological composition used as a treatment against venomous stings or bites. Antivenom is created by extracting the venom from snake, spider or scorpion. This being said, good luck to those who after this reading think they can go and capture some najas and make a fortune. In conclusion we can say that no one knows if these dangerous snakes have multiplied infinitely, or if they have killed each other. No one really knows it, on the other hand certainty is that dozens have been transferred there, so be careful…

Sources: Doucet, Snakes of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire P 337.
MOREL, P. C. (1959). Survey on parasites of domestic animals in
Republic of Ivory Coast. – Lab. publ. Fédéral de l’Elevage Georges Curasson, 63 pp.
PAULI AN, R. (1947). Ophidiens du Banco (Côte d’Ivoire). – Notes africaines, No 33, 1.
PHISALIX, M. (1922). Poisonous and venomous animals. – Paris: Masson & Cie.

Photo credit: Nader Fahkry

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