Sunday, September 21, 2008

Spitting cobra on the loose

[Ongata Rongai, Kenya]
GREETINGS FROM a really cool area just outside of Nairobi. Without a doubt, the Ongata Rongai and neighboring Kitengela areas have an amazing buzz between them. Everywhere you look, flats and houses are going up. And why not? Land is el cheapo here, and you're not that far away from Nairobi, Ngong, or Karen. Oh, did you see that smooth tarmaced road heading from Bomas all the way into Ongata Rongai town? Wow, that's what I call smooth sailing.

The new Tuskys super market is super kool and it's stocked with everything under the sun. Plus, Barclays, KCB, and Equity banks have set up branches in this thriving town. Again, Ongata Rongai should definitely be on your list if you want to get away from the city sprawl of Nairobi that's on the cheap. I wouldn't think twice about moving here. I see BIG opportunities for entrepreneurs here to open up cyber cafes, bars/restaurants, retail outlets among other possibilities. And this area feels safe as hell thanks to the new police station nearby.

Oh, a cobra...
So my good pal Pippa lives up here with her son and 2 dogs (Shenzi & Mtokutu). When I saw her last week in Karen, she told me that she had to rush Mtokutu to the vet because she got sprayed by the venom of a spitting cobra that "hangs out" in a particular bushy area of the back yard. Yikes! I'm sure you'll understand why I was a little hessitant to drop by for a visit, right? :-) What's more annoying is that no one has seen the damn snake, but there's a general understanding that a cobra visits the back yard once in a while.


Anyhow, I saw Mtokutu and she had some green ointment in her left eye to prevent further damage. Unfortunately, these 2 dogs don't really understand the danger of its slippery neighbour. This sort of freaked Pippa out, and her good friend Dennis Matthews (a snake guru/catcher) from Kitengela told her to call him if anyone spots the "king" of the backyard.

Cobra ahoy...
Now check this out. My pal David dropped by to visit me and show me the plans for a golf course his peeps are planning on developing. We're chatting out in the back yard and low and behold, we see this brownish-greyish cobra sloowly slide right on by us about 8 feet away and into the bush everyone suspects is one of its many homes. It's like the cobra said "Hey guys, just ignore me...continue with your meeting...I'm just sliding by into this lovely bush you got in this yard. Carry on!"

I looked at David and said "Aah, so that's the cobra I've been hearing about." I then ran into the house to notify Pippa and also to make sure the 2 dogs were not outside. In no time, Dennis Matthews and his kids came by for a "snake outing." This was going to be my first time watching some dude capture a 4 1/2 feet cobra.

Hide & seek...
So Dennis puts on his glasses - for obvious reasons. His 11 year old son also got in on the action as father and son proceeded to search the bush for the cobra. After a while, everyone was getting a little antsy and wondering if the cobra probably slid away some where else. Then Dennis' son and Justin had a bright idea. They started to throw rocks into the bush like fire bombs. This definitely did the trick. Our slippery visitor was flushed out, and decided to head in the opposite direction away from all the falling debris. Smart fella. In the open grass, Dennis snared it before it got away. His son assisted and eventually it was placed in a bag.

Goodbye Mr. Cobra...
After a nice chat, Dennis and his entourage got into a land rover with the snake. He's going to release it far away from this area so that it won't ever come come back again. Well, hopefully. He said that cobras were territorial and there's no chance of another cobra coming by for a visit. I hope so.

All in all, it was quite a afternoon. David's spontaneous visit was quite a revealation. If he didn't show up, we would not have had that meeting in the back yard so no one would know that the cobra had returned for a temporary visit. All I can say is "good riddance." By the way, Pippa is thinking of getting a pet mongoose from the KSPCA to hang out in the back yard.

Related links:

New species - largest spitting cobra found in Kenya
Photos: world's largest spitting cobra discovered in Kenya

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