International Snakebite Awareness Day aims to raise awareness on the huge, yet mostly unrecognised global impact of snakebite injuries and casualties.
The World Health Organization estimates that between 81,000 and 138,000 people around the world die each year from snakebite and up to 400,000 are left permanently disabled or disfigured as a result of being bitten by venomous snakes.
The day was signified by demonstrations of snakebite first aid management and information on preventing snakebites in the first instance.
Port Moresby Nature Park’s General Manager, Michelle McGeorge, said: “Papua New Guinea has thirty-seven (37) species of venomous snakes, seven are known to be dangerous to humans. Every year there are estimated to be 1,000 snakebite deaths in the country. Nearly half of these fatalities involve children.”
McGeorge added: “Snakes are vitally important to our planet and the ecosystem and we should respect, not fear or hate snake. We need to know and learn the tools that will help prevent us from being bitten.”
Snakebite prevention tips given on the day included wearing gumboots or shoes and long pants when walking in grass, walking noisily, keeping grass low and wood and rubbish away from the house and not trying to catch or kill snakes.
The Port Moresby Nature Park’s Snaketastic! event is still running each weekend until 13 October and has been focused on getting people to learn about snakes and snake bite first aid from St John’s Komuniti First Aid team and Charles Campbell Toxinology Centre.
The Nature Park continues to increase its role in the advocacy of wildlife and as such, the new Reptile Haus will enable the Park to share stronger messages on the importance of protecting PNG’s wildlife.
The park is the South Pacific Island’s only internationally welfare-accredited zoological facility and has received a number of international awards for its contribution to wildlife advocacy and public education.
(St John Komuniti First Aid team demonstrating snakebite first aid management and safety)