This City Safari in Hong Kong Comes With a Snake Warning

HONG KONG – The snake did not see the attacker coming, especially his time to avoid being caught.

“This is the fourth most venomous snake in the world, as well as the most poisonous snake in Asia,” the activist, William Sargent, told a group of travelers on a recent night in Hong Kong. He presented the story calmly, in which one explains that dinner is ready.

Which of us, he asked, wanted to touch it first?

Sargent, 44, rides a snake in the Hong Kong Safari, a cloak that transports people for a night trek across the mountains. Some are more fearful than others when they see for themselves what they say is an incomprehensible reptile.

The increase reflects the ecological diversity of Hong Kong, an economic center of 7.5 million people known for its higher levels than protected areas. This is a way to protect yourself in a city with snake bites to deal with their fears in the wild.

Hong Kong is about the size of Los Angeles, but about 40% of its landmarks are parks built in the 1970s when part of China was Britain. Human and animal conflicts are inevitable because most protected areas are located in the vicinity of overcrowded cities.

Wild pigs, in particular, like to make noise when roaming the streets or subways. Last month, a pig family made local paperwork passing through a central business district in Hong Kong and swimming in a well outside the Bank of China office.

Snakes are usually rare in Hong Kong, but because eight species are biting, health risks can be as high as if they were close to humans.

Hong Kong police have said in a statement that if the snake posed a threat to humans, it would be “beaten and carried” by its captives, then sent to Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, which is also a safe haven for bats, birds, crocodiles, monkeys. , caves and turtles. Many snakes are later released from the wild.

Sargent, who keeps snakes as their pets grow on an island outside Hong Kong, has been a police official since 2015. He said his work took snakes into prisons, schools, supermarkets, airplanes and the coronavirus ward, where he released a lizard. 10 feet.

Last month, he was called to a fishing village at 3 a.m. to remove a Chinese snake – under the bed of a 90-year-old woman. He also said a group of village elders made a way to welcome him as he passed by, “shouting their five cents and catching foreign snakes.”

“Even the police were laughing,” said Sargent, a British-Swiss activist who works as a day laborer.

Separately, they run a travel business and a Facebook student group about local snakes with more than 10,000 members. It may also have been developed to help correct misconceptions about viruses, such as the notion that snake bites are common in the city.

The World Health Organization estimates that 81,000 to 138,000 people worldwide die each year as a result of snakebite, especially in developing countries, and that more than three times as many have been permanently disabled.

Most of the annual “envenomings”, 1.8 million to 2.7 million worldwide, or snake venom, are found in Asia, many in countries with poor health and limited access to medicines. Countries that do not have antivenom-producing capacity are at high risk.

But in Hong Kong, where medicine is first available, no one has been killed by a poisonous snake since 2005, according to a city hospital official. In 2018, last year in which data was available, governments only recorded 73 snake bites, creating the possibility of one in 100,000 bites.

“It’s not a miracle,” Sargent said on a night walk. “It will be clear what the risk is. But there is a big difference in the wrong ideas.”

I was one of several pilgrims who met Mr. Sargent in a village near the Hong Kong-China border for weeks at a time. Before entering another park, he explained that the best way to avoid being bitten by a snake is to look at your feet and walk around with a precious lamp.

Search. And check. As we began to walk along the concrete path, our carefully controlled movements were washed away by a bright LED light.

But the surrounding light seemed to disappear with each step, and the sections of the path had begun to look awkward – especially to my snake-eyed eyes.

“Look everywhere you look,” said James Kwok, a wildlife enthusiast who followed the tour and provided snake sighting tips.

The team crossed the river to the thighs and crossed slippery rocks in the dark. A few pedestrians fell and fell into the water.

The Sargent saw our first rock – the mountain water snake – and pulled the rock out of the river with their bare hands.

As he showed us the snake, it shook his hand, bleeding profusely. Angry: It wasn’t bad, so no problem.

But it does not seem happy and courageous for Mr. Sargent.

“No,” he said. “I mean, I’m a monster, aren’t I?”

This looks like a perfect nightmare. But after a few minutes, a tall, strong, black, and white snake fell from the light of the group lamps.

“Fast, fast, fast!” Sargent screamed and whispered to each other, as the group began to move back and forth, the lanterns fluttering as brightly as leaves at a rock concert.

As he walked on the water, he ran forward, dipped his hand in the glove of the delegate and picked up the snake.

As it circulates in the atmosphere, it is said to be a multi-layered, nocturnal cottage with a dangerous toxin that monitors the nervous system. We all felt overwhelmed by our anxiety.

But Sargent, who still seems calm, asserted that in 30 years of using wildlife, he had never seen a single strike. Naturally the animal would run away, not bite.

So we gathered to touch the belly of the cage – which was incredibly smooth and smooth, like the cheeks of a baby – and marveled at how beautiful its scales looked.

“It’s not what you expect,” says Ruth Stather, who travels with companies.

The wall is not very pleasant, but it seems to allow for interested people for a few minutes. As we stood up and held it in the still darkness, I felt my snake subside.

“They are not involved in the war,” Sargent said.

I was worried he was trying to get ahead. But, really, when he took the snake out of the forest, it left.

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