Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New Managment - and Cobras

During my time at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge (it was called Sossusvlei Mountain Lodge at the time) I saw a number of changes in management. It was always an eventful time. Staff take time to adjust to the new management style, the new manager takes time to adjust to the lodge, to the staff and so on. It's just normal. It's like that in any normal organization.

A few years back one management change was a little more eventful than the others. There were lots of members of management around at the time. I was mainly guiding and not involved much with management (except for managing the guiding department.)

My typical day at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge as a guide involved a very early start, a long break in the middle of the day, and then working until the guests went to dinner.

During this particular management changeover I was off for my lunch break. I lived some three kilometers from the lodge at the staff village. I got a phone call from the manager to be. There was a Black Spitting Cobra Naja nigricollis woodi at the lodge. They couldn't find the snake stick. Could I come and help.

I found the snake stick without to much trouble. The snake had gone past all the people having lunch outside, up the wall, onto the roof. The roof was a depression (you can see the exact area where the snake was in this picture from Expert Africa's Website.

I had to climb up the side wall and was assisted by one of the managers from Windhoek up on the roof. I think I was the only one, aside from one of the assistant managers, who had caught cobras before. So I did all the actual catching of the snake. It got itself really wound up tight in a corner, having gone through a hole out of the roof, and down a narrow area where wires ran down the side of the building.

It was hard to pull it out. It kept it's head inside of it's coils, so that I could only pull out it's body. That's not ideal, because when you pull the body away it's head can strike at you. Eventually we got it out okay. It had a little spit at me, but very little got on me. I passed the snake into the container below, where the assistant manager controlled it and put the lid on. We drove it out and let it go.

Cobras were rather rare for us, and this day was really something else, with the cobra really putting on a show for all our visitors for the changeover, and a dramatic start to our new manager's time at the lodge.


  1. Love the photo shoot! =)

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