Skilled snake charmer makes sure Etosha’s guests are safe
Namibia Wildlife Resorts’ own snake charmer, Michael !Goreseb, has been the saving grace of many a visitor to Etosha over the past fourteen years. As the unofficial snake-catcher, he has caught and removed scores of snakes, guided by his principle that snakes are not a nuisance but must simply be removed from areas where they are a potential threat.
Counting three black mambas in his impressive list of “hits”, Michael is no stranger to venomous and dangerous snakes. Any snake handler will tell you that extracting a mamba from a bush or a building is not an easy task. The snake’s unpredictable demeanour and its extremely potent venom make it one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. And then there is its intimidating size. The last one caught by Michael measured 3.6 metres.
Hailing from Otjiwarongo and growing up in Tsumeb, Michael had more than enough bush around him to grow his fascination with snakes which started at a very young age. “When I was a young boy, I started to catch these venomous snakes and all other types of snakes. That’s how I got into catching snakes,” he said.
He was introduced to snake handling by his grandfather, who was also a snake handler. From him he learned the important lesson that snakes are part of the wild and they must be respected as such. “When one catches a snake, one should release it back in to the wild as part of the ecosystem,” he said echoing what his grandfather taught him. “If you kill it, you disturb the ecosystem.”
Having experienced the sharp end of a snake, Michael said he has become adept at identifying different species of snakes. Sometimes he had to learn the hard way and was bitten on several occasions but never by a lethal snake. When a mildly venomous snake strikes, the area around the bite mark swell up for a while but subsides after a few days, he explains as a matter of fact.
It is Michael’s intention to turn his snake passion into a lifelong career, saying that he wants to be one of the best snake handlers in the country.
Michael !Goreseb with his snake catching paraphernalia. Michael is the local tourist snake guardian at Namibia Wildlife Resorts’ Okaukuejo restcamp in Etosha National Park.