Geoparks Africa
World Heritage Sites

Tanzania slithers into maiden research on snakes within the country’s vast Ruaha National Park

Ruaha National Park is setting out to conduct the first dedicated research on snakes aimed at studying the variety of species as well as the specific behaviors of these slithering serpents in Tanzania.

Speaking at Ruaha, the Tanzania National Parks’ Senior Conservation Officer, MarckyFarreny Rwezaula revealed that the research on the species and the number of snakes found in the National Park has started.

She however did not divulge when the research will be accomplished, but once done it will be probably the first serious study on snakes to be conducted in Tanzania if not the entire East African region.

While most people seem to fear snakes, there are many others who are fascinated by the reptiles, as can be attested by hundreds who usually visit the Meserani snake park in Arusha.

There are also the thousands other visitors touring the Nairobi snake park in Kenya.

Gasper Kahabi is the Conservation Officer Grade II in the Tourism Department at Ruaha National Park, who points out that diversifying tourism products in the conservancy will help boost the number of visitors at Ruaha.

Located in Iringa, Ruaha happens to be the second biggest National Park in Tanzania, after Nyerere, mapped within 20,000 square kilometers, with more than 70 percent of its area yet to be fully explored.

The conservancy is home to an estimated 15 species of reptiles, including oversized crocodiles and a variety of snakes currently under study.

Ruaha is home to the highly feared Boomslang snake, a dangerous reptile whose venom causes its victim’s blood to not only stop clotting but to come running out of every hole on your body.

According to the report by ‘Save the Snake,’ organization, there are more than 420 species of reptiles, among them snakes in the East African region.

Many of the snakes found in Tanzania and East Africa happen to be endemic, especially those slithering in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Morogoro.

Tanzania supports a diverse variety of snakes, including some of the world’s most venomous species such as black mambas, cobras, and puff adders.

However, zoologists from various institutions around the world confirm that there are very few, if any studies done on snakes in East Africa.

The only authoritative paper about the most common snakes in Tanzania was posthumously published in 1975 by the former Scientific Officer of Tanzania National Parks, Desmond Foster Vesey-FitzGerald.

Apart from that, there have been very few published accounts that include collections of snakes from the other regions of Tanzania.

In 1991 scientists Donald Broadley and Kim Howell published the Checklist of Reptiles in Tanzania in order to build the understanding of biogeographical and macro-ecological relationships of the East African Herpetofauna.

However, other than that no detailed survey of the snake fauna of the country has been carried out so far

Apart from snakes, Ruaha National Park is also home to 15,000 giant elephants, over 20,000 buffaloes, 575 bird species, and more than 300 ostriches, as well as prides of rather big lions.