North West farmers are on a snake alert following the recent summer rains and warm temperatures. But a young snake-handler in Groot Marico near Zeerust wants to change how snakes are viewed and punts their importance to the ecosystem.

Farmers like Monnapula Ditlotlo have to face snakes daily as they prey on their livestock.

“There are a lot of snakes around here. The most problematic are cobras because they come here at night and eat my eggs and chicks. It’s a very dangerous snake…because we aren’t supposed to kill them; we try to warn each other to be on the look out for snakes.”

Twenty nine-year -old Shawn Erasmus wants to break misconceptions about snakes.

“My biggest challenge is the farmers here because a farmer believes a snake is from the devil and they shoot it. So I just want to teach everyone and show everyone that they are not as bad as all the old wives tales and so on. And in the long run, if you save a snake’s life that snake saves your life because that snake turns to anti venom.”

There’s a high prevalence of venomous snakes like cobras and mambas in the area. Erasmus plans on milking snakes for anti-venom.

“The hospitals here have anti-venom but here in Groot Marico it’s far away so it’s in the line. I am planning a venom lab so I can start milking snakes here to get a better supply of anti-venom here in North West.”