Expert cautions against rushing to conclusions

By Ilia L Likou ,

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TO KILL OR NOT TO KILL: The snake found in Savai'i.

TO KILL OR NOT TO KILL: The snake found in Savai'i.

An environmental expert is cautioning against the killing of a two-metre snake found in Savai’i on Friday.

Although early reports expressed fears that the creature could possibly be a venomous “Australian Tiger Snake,” S.P.R.E.P’s Environmental Monitoring and Reporting Officer, Paul Anderson, yesterday called for caution.

“Invasive snakes could be a very bad thing for Samoa,” Mr. Anderson told the Sunday Samoan. “However given the location this one was found (far from a port) and the fact that Samoa does in fact have resident native snakes, it is most likely that this is the native boa. 

“I’ve got a small one here in Apia- it’s a pet and we use her as an educational animal – teaching kids about Samoa’s native fauna.”

Mr. Anderson added that Samoa is home to a native non-venomous snake called the Pacific boa.

“They are a bit rare because uninformed people often kill them.”

Mr. Anderson said it’s important that the snake is brought to Apia so that “we can ID and release if it is native or destroy it if it happens to be an alien (non-native) species.”

On Friday, Branch Manager of Bluebird inn Savai’i, Dave Perriman said the snake measured 2 metres with the “markings of an Australian Tiger Snake, which is a dangerous species.”

“In fact it can be deadly without the anti venom, which I would be pretty certain would not be kept here in Samoa.”

Alarmed by this, they contacted the government authorities. 

“We called the M.N.R.E and they told us they didn't know what to do with it, maybe just kill it and bury it,” he said. “I went around to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and they virtually said the same, the person in the front office rang their department of Livestock and they said they only handled cows and pigs and couldn't tell us what to do or who to contact.

“I would have thought one of the Departments would have been more concerned just how the snake actually got into the country, I was not even asked as to where the snake was found, if this is a female snake, has it had babies and how long has it been in the country. 

“The last thing we want is to introduce snakes into our environment, to feed on the small birds we have here.”

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