Coast KZN

31 Mar 2018

Massive Gaboon viper tagged and released at Maphelane beach

Tamlyn Jolly (Zululand Observer) Picture: A 1.5m Gaboon viper was tagged and released at Maphelane beach. (Photo: Brad McLaren)

The beautiful specimen was tagged and released

A gaboon viper measuring 1.5m was on Friday seen at Maphelane Beach, just south of St Lucia, by local fishermen from Monzi.

The beautiful reptile was seen on the sand, at the water’s edge, appearing to be heading towards slightly deeper water of a small lagoon area.

The fishermen were able to catch the snake, which was then tagged and released in the bush.

The Gaboon viper is mostly found in the rain forests and savannas of Sub-Saharan Africa, including Guinea, Equitorial Guinea, Ghana, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Uganda.

It is also found further south in Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe – and in north-eastern KZN.

Known for its beautiful colouring and patterns resembling dead leaves on a forest floor, the Gaboon viper’s camouflage is superb.

A primarily nocturnal species, Gaboon vipers have a reputation of being slow-moving and placid.

Also known as the Gaboon adder, or forest puff adder, the snake was originally named by the Portuguese – Gabon refers to the estuary on which the town of Libreville, in Gabon, was built.

Adult Gaboon vipers average between 125 and 155cm in length, with a maximum 205cm for a specimen caught in Sierra Leone.

It is a venomous snake with the longest fangs of its species which can measure up to 5cm.