We were happily sitting on a septic tank in River Drive when progress came rudely knocking. The municipality was putting in water-borne sewerage and the pipe was going to go through our garden and across the Mkombaan River at the bottom of it.
There would be some dynamite blasting. Deep blasting where they were going right under the river bed.
Bliksem. I was not happy. Our little wilderness was about to be badly shaken up.
Aitch arranged to meet with the high-ups and extracted some undertakings from them – We hereby undertake to minimise damage; to let you know the exact path so you can move your precious plants; to give you ample warning so you can move your dogs in time – we were still blissfully child-free – etc. they intoned solemnly. And she kept them to their word!
I asked the guys onsite to please not kill any creatures and to bring me anything they found so I could move it away safely. I would reward them. That’s how I came to receive this in a big bucket:
What a beauty! A solid-looking snake about 80cm long. Fascinating. I read up on them: They’re back-fanged, mildly venomous, not life-threatening; very reluctant to bite; slow-moving, placid; Look at the beautiful coloration and scales.
Relatively rare, they spend most of their life underground or hidden – note the small eyes. Found under rotting logs or when doing excavations. Move about slowly on warm, overcast days; good swimmers. Natal Black Snakes feed on frogs, lizards, legless lizards and small rodents; are known to take carrion.
As I promised them, I moved it away to a safe place that same evening: the other end of our garden. I was so concerned about saving him I didn’t take a picture!