Snakes in Karura: Why you should still visit the forest


Snakes in Karura: Why you should still visit the forest
Photo of an African rock python spotted at Karura forest

In Summary

  • Karura is a popular spot for runners, picnickers and those who just want to take in the fresh air and the forest scenery.
  • They said the python was "spotted crossing the Shady Path near Junction 41" by FKF Chief Scout, John Chege.
  • FKF also said the snake had wandered from its normal area because of drought.

A photo of a of a big python spotted at Karura Forest in Nairobi has caused anxiety with many vowing to avoid the area at all costs.

Karura forest is a popular spot for runners, picnickers and those who just want to take in the fresh air and the forest scenery.

It is a must-visit location for anyone visiting the Kenyan Capital and even for the residents, and that is why pandemonium set in when it was confirmed that the 2,570 acre forest is home to the giant snake that was spotted and many others.

A python is a constrictor; it kills by wrapping itself around a prey which results in “shutting off” of blood flow and oxygen leading to unconsciousness and cardiac arrest before it then swallows the prey whole.

There were those who are just afraid of snakes and cannot co-exist in the same location with them and that is understandable but there were some not so clever ones who demanded that the snake be moved from its natural habitat. Double face palm.

Twitter user Paul Kaweru had the best answer to those seeking its removal; “Why is Karura Forest trending? Was the python supposed to rent a bungalow in Muthaiga?”

But forget the dumb questions and let us answer the question that majority posed, is it safe to still visit the forest that has such big snakes?

The answer is yes. If you are not confident enough in our answer, then let us go to people who have some expertise and know a bit about snakes.

Friends of Karura Forest (FKF), a Community Forest Association that manages the place together with the Kenya Forest Service issued a statement on Thursday confirming the existence of the African Rock Python and others but at the same time moved to calm the nerves.

“There is no need for joggers or bikers to worry. Pythons are harmless to people, unless, as with most animals, they are cornered or severely provoked. They are not venomous at all,” they wrote on their Facebook page.

They said the python was “spotted crossing the Shady Path near Junction 41” by FKF Chief Scout, John Chege.

FKF also said the snake had wandered from its normal area because of drought.

“Pythons are solitary and typically stay near water. It is likely that this one has wandered up from the Ruaka River, looking for prey during this severe dry period, or perhaps to shed its skin,” they said.

While the snake is still a snake and will do “snake-like things” when provoked, the Community Forest Association asked runners, joggers and anyone who ventures into the woods to not bother the snakes.

“Rest assured, if you stay on Karura’s designated trails (and don’t wander off-trail along the rivers), the very few snakes will sense your presence through vibrations in their bellies and get quickly out of your way,” they added.

The Chairman of Friends of Karura Forest Prof Karanja Njoroge asked patrons to “keep to the designated tracks.”

 

You should also stay near your children and dogs when out in the trails. Don’t bother them and they won’t bother you, simple. Oh, also, don’t take naps inside the forest, you will just be tempting the animals.

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