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Posted by Wes von Papinešu on October 20, 2000 at 20:27:17:
EAST AFRICAN STANDARD (Nairobi, Kenya) 20 October 00 KWS to act on snake farms (Caroline Mango & Josphat Kinyua)
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) will start a major crack-down on illegal snake farms operating in the Coast.
KWS deputy director, Mr Joseph Kioko, said this follows an incident where a snake attendant at an unlicensed farm in Nyali was bitten due to wrong handling of the reptile and low safety standards at the farm.
Kioko acknowledged the existence of many illegal snake farms in Malindi, Kilifi and Mombasa districts.
"We know these people do a lucrative export business of the snakes. They even go as far as Mt Kenya and Kakamega to look for the reptiles," said Kioko. Speaking on telephone, he said KWS was carrying out investigations and will soon crack down on such farm operators.
According to KWS officers in Mombasa, none of the snake farms in Coast is registered.
The attendant was reportedly bitten by a boomslang, one of the most poisonous snakes in Africa, in March while attending to it without protective covering.
The owner of the farm, a German, is said to have taken the attendant to a clinic for medication but later sacked him and refused to pay his dues. Employees at the farm are said to be working without the required equipment for handling the snakes.
A spot check by our team on Wednesday revealed that the workers do not have safety boots, protective eye glasses, dust masks, industrial gloves and snake hooks to use while attending to the snakes.
The owner does not also keep an anti-venom on the farm or any first aid kit in case of an accident although he rears some of the most poisonous snakes.
Asked whether the allegations by the workers were true, the farm owner said: "They should blame the Kenyan Government not me."
In a memorandum to the Provincial Labour Officer, the workers allege their pay is not commensurate with the nature of the job they do.
The labour officials have also been accused by the workers of being compromised by the German.