Friday, May 16, 2008

Stories you will never see from Africa. The Mzungu effect

Forty baby pythons hatched in Entebbe.

This has to be the Muzungu effect on some Africans that have way too much time. Since when did Africans care about snakes? This stupid thing has lived for 30 years. I am still wondering why one of these idle people hasn't finished crushing its head. Seriously, this story was front page in one of the daily newspapers.

By Gerald Tenywa

LUTEMBE, a 30-year-old giant python that was rescued from Lutembe Beach Hotel last year, has become the proud mother of 40 babies.

For Julius Abigaba, a reptile keeper at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, formerly known as Entebbe Zoo, the last two weeks were the most exciting of his life.

“It is the first time snakes are breeding at this centre,” he said. “This is an achievement that gives us pride.”

Abigaba has been watching over the python as it was incubating a cluster of eggs slightly bigger than the size of chicken. After they lay their eggs, females will typically incubate them until they hatch.

This is achieved by causing the muscles to “shiver”, which raises the temperature of the body. During the incubation period, females will not eat and only leave to bask in order to raise their body temperature.

Lutembe spent the early hours of yesterday in the sun in her reptile house, which she shares with two other pythons, occasionally checking on her young ones. Her skin has started peeling off, exposing a new beautiful one.

“She coils around the baby pythons most of the time,” said Abigaba. “She is so protective. When caregivers go in to clean the reptile house, she hisses to scare them away.”

Previously, Lutembe was living a miserable life inside a metallic cage at Lutembe Beach Hotel. Tourists used to pay sh500 to her captors. They would poke her with a metallic rod for her to turn, as part of the entertainment. “We intervened and rescued her, but she had broken some bones in the head,” Abigaba explained.

“This was discovered after an X-ray. She was treated and has now healed.”

The centre keeps snakes and other wild animals for conservation purposes. The young ones will be relocated to a national park, according to Abigaba.

“The number is too big for us to handle and wild animals belong to the wilderness.”