No entry into Letaba staff village KNP

A narrow escape with a mamba!

The section rangers in Kruger are allowed to drive a motorbike as part of their job. Some roads are just more easily accessible on a bike and they are more versatile than a vehicle. Some of the rangers love using them, and others not so much. Steven loves riding a motorbike through the park and he was quite happy when the section ranger lent him his bike for a while a few years ago. (Another story about Steven and the motorbike is in the blog the ranger and the flight attendant)


I was still living in Holland at the time. Thank goodness for cell phones and WhatsApp. At least we could stay in touch that way. So when Steven sent me a message one morning, about a little ‘incident’ he had on the ranger’s bike, I had a very clear visual image of what happened.


Steven was on his way home from camp. He was driving on the no entry road to the staff village when all of a sudden a big black mamba crossed the road in front of him. He had to make a split second decision. When you are in a car, you can easily stop and let the snake pass. But on a motorbike? When it is a mamba? Steven said he was already too close to the snake to stop without attracting attention to himself. So stopping was not an option. Trying to duck and weave behind it and risk falling or being bitten? Also not an option. Open throttle then, and go over the mamba as fast as you can!!


So that is what he did. He opened the throttle and lifted his legs as high as he could when he went over the mamba at full speed. In my imagination, I see him go, with a petrified look on his face, legs lifted high up over the handlebars. Steven actually does not remember how he managed, but when he stopped at a safe distance to check on the snake and if he had any bite marks, he saw his own shoe prints on the fuel tank. Cold sweat was dripping down his back. A quick inspection on his legs showed Steven was fine thank goodness.


Unfortunately the mamba got injured and with a heavy heart Steven and his assistant had no choice but to end it’s suffering. When they examined the snake afterwards, Steven said he still had cold chills running down his spine. That had been a close call; a very close call!!








3 thoughts on “A narrow escape with a mamba!

  1. Healthy specimen – I unintentionally drove over one in a Unimog in Rhodesia in 1978 when in the army. It reared up in front of the vehicle and looked through the windscreen. It was just over 13feet long when we took it to the snake man at the local museum. He said we were lucky because in that area they COULD reach around 20 feet. Can you imagine 20 feet (never mind 13 feet) of mamba thrashing around in the cockpit of a doorless, roofless Unimog?

  2. One of the sightings we always hope for in the park is at least one snake – viewed safely from the car! But on a motorbike? That would be a no -no . . . . Stephen really thought fast, and how lucky that he did. I laughed at the description of seeing his shoe-prints on the fuel tank – but – scary stuff!

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