KZN snake catcher removes 4 metre goat-eating python

Fanie Cilliers, Ladysmith's snake catcher, holds the head of this 4.3 metre long African Rock Python that was caught eating a local man's goat.


DURBAN – Snakes and mankind often do not mix well for numerous reasons, but in KwaZulu-Natal’s Ladysmith area, a 4.3 metre long rock python had a lucky break on Tuesday after eating a local resident’s goat.

Instead of being hacked to death, the owner of the goat alerted the police, who called Ladysmith’s very own snake catcher, Fanie Cilliers, to come and remove the troublesome reptile, literally from his back yard in the Emcitsheni area.

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The owner of the goat, identified only as a Mr Nzimande, told Cilliers that he had already lost two chickens to rock pythons that morning.

“Mr Nzimande claimed that this was the third python for the day and when the python took one of his goats he had had enough. He claims that the previous two pythons each ate a chicken from his livestock and that this is a norm as this happens frequently,” said Cilliers.

Cilliers said that when he arrived at Nzimande’s yard, the python was still giving the goat the squeeze of death.

“I grabbed this beautiful African Rock Python (python natalenses ) female and then pulled her from the cliff’s edge where I could work with her safely. I then bagged her and we started the long walk back to the car with this 28 kilogram python on my back.”

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Cilliers said the python would be released into a nearby game park that had previously been a cattle ranch.

Police had alerted Cilliers to the python after Nzimande had reported it to them.

But Nzimande’s python that ate his goat was not the first of the day. Earlier, Cilliers had removed a 2.75 metre snake from the Estageni area.

Cilliers said that when he had moved to Ladysmith he noticed numerous reports in the town’s local newspapers of snakes being killed – something that he did not like to see happening.

So he introduced himself to the local council as the Ladysmith Snake Removal Team – consisting of himself, his wife Melissa, his daughter Mishkè and his son Sean.

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He gave the local councilors his number and Cilliers reckons he has rescued at least 30 African Rock Pythons. Tuesday’s catch was not the biggest by any means though. That record belongs to a 5.2 metre specimen that was rescued and released.

One of the longest specimens ever caught measured 6.8 metres.

Africa News Agency