Mating Mambas or Deadly Duel?

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We often set out in the hope of seeing some of the bigger items on the safari menu: lion, leopard, elephant; but it’s often the unexpected and sometimes smaller wildlife that moves us the most. This was the case for Johan von Backstrom, General Manager of DumaTau Camp, when he came across two black mambas in a tug of war…

Just as our guests arrived back from their morning drive we were called by some of the housekeepers who informed us of two black mambas behind the laundry. Calling guests and grabbing cameras, we set out to investigate. We found the snakes directly behind the laundry room in a little open area. At first they appeared to be engaged in a mating ritual. With their bodies entwined and heads raised almost a metre off the ground, each kept trying to get the upper hand on the other. The ritual lasted for almost 30 minutes. And then just as quickly as it started, they dropped to the ground and moved off in separate directions, causing all of us to fall back in a hasty retreat to the safety of the lounge.

Back in the main area the lounge was a hive of excitement as this was clearly something that you do not see every day. Initial thoughts were that it was a pair busy mating, but after some research we learned that they only start mating in spring. Black mambas are also territorial, so clearly this was a bout for territory before settling in for winter.

Even though they are regarded as deadly, being able to witness such an event, so close up and on foot, was something that we and our guests will surely not forget anytime soon. A reminder of how amazing Mother Nature can truly be.

The following day

Walking back from checking a room, we saw a few Bradfield’s hornbills, starlings and squirrels, clearly not happy with a visitor. In an apple-leaf tree right next to the curio shop we found one of the black mambas making his way down from the branches. Quickly grabbing my camera before he made his retreat, I was able to get a few great close-up shots of him before he disappeared into the undergrowth. A fleeting and deadly visitor, but still so beautiful…

Written and Photographed by Johan von Backstrom

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