The puff adder Bitis arietans is one of the most common venomous snakes in southern Africa; responsible for an estimated 60% of serious snake bites. In order to look at the snake-human conflict issue, the N/a’an ku sê research department developed a pilot study project to look at the ecology of this species and investigate the use of short-distance translocation as a tool in the management of snake-human conflict.
In total 27 puff adders, most of which were captured in areas of human activity where they posed a danger, were fitted with miniature VHF transmitters (manufactured here in Namibia through collaboration with the local University and technology industry) enabling us to follow their movements after release.
Once released snakes were tracked using VHF radio telemetry equipment to plot their movements and habitat use. Most important was the question; do puff adders return to their point of capture using some form of homing instinct?
This will help us understand if short-distance translocation is a tool in the reduction of management of snake-related bites and deaths in areas of human activity.
The data gathered is still being fully analysed, however initial impressions do not suggest such a territorial homing instinct exists within this species.
In the future we hope to expand this project further to learn even more about not only the puff adder but many of the other species of venomous snakes found in Namibia such as the infamous black mamba and the many cobra species resident to the area.