Date Published:

Tuesday, September 19, 2023 - 17:15

International Snake Bite Awareness Day (ISBAD) is an annual observance that started in 2018 to raise awareness of a neglected tropical disease that plagues a lot of our communities in developing countries. As custodians of our planet's diverse ecosystems, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) plays a pivotal role in understanding and mitigating the impacts of snakebites on both human populations and wildlife. Observed on 19th September, ISBAD invites us to shed our misconceptions and myths, not only about the dangers of snake bites but also about these fascinating reptiles that play vital roles in our ecosystems.

Snakebites are a global health concern that primarily affects rural communities in regions where venomous snakes are prevalent. These bites can lead to fatalities, disabilities and immense suffering. The challenge becomes even more pronounced as it leads to human - wildlife conflict, especially in snake prone areas. This often leads to retaliatory snake persecution, which can disrupt the delicate balance of local ecosystems.

To tackle this issue effectively, KWS, relevant state organizations and conservancies have continued to take a proactive approach, the first of which is community awareness.  Communities living in these rural areas must be educated about the local snake species, their habits and habitats. What happens after a snakebite? Immediate action can mean the difference between life and death. Rural areas often lack quick access to medical facilities, making it crucial for communities to know how to respond.

After a snakebite, one should: 

1.     Stay as calm and still as possible to slow the spread of venom.

2.     Do not suck the wound. Contrary to popular belief, sucking out venom can worsen the situation.

3.     Immobilize the affected limb.

4.     Seek medical help. 

5.     Anti-venom to be administered by a health care professional.

ISBAD provides an opportunity to shift our perspective on snakes. By raising awareness about snake bites, we can reduce human - snake conflicts and protect our biodiversity. Let's embrace ISBAD as a chance to foster harmony with nature, recognizing that snakes, like all creatures, have their place in the intricate web of life on our planet.