Friday, January 6, 2012

The Black Mamba 01

The Black Mamba (Dendroapsis Polylepis) is by far Africa’s most feared snake. Attacks on humans are surprisingly rare, more people die each year due to bites from the Puff Adder (Bitis Arietans). Nevertheless, the black mamba’s neurotoxic venom is powerful enough to even kill an adult male lion within a few minutes. This raises the question if there are predators powerful enough to kill a full grown black mamba. Indeed there are a few, such as large birds of prey like eagles and secretary birds. In fact, some people keep secretary birds on their properties to “protect” them from encounters with venomous snakes like cobras, mambas and many others. Monitors and crocodiles will also prey on black mamba and it should be mentioned, that this predators even have a certain degree of immunity against many venomous snake bites, including the bite of mambas. I’ve never found any scientific studies on the subject but there certainly are evidences. A few years back, I filmed a scene in which a nine foot black mamba was basking in the morning sun near a nile crocodile invested waterhole. As soon as the crocodiles discovered the snake, they left the water in an attempt to attack (see video link). 

Black mambas are the fastest snake on land, capable of moving at 10 to 12 mph, leaving not a chance for the nile crocodiles to snatch an easy meal. Filming such wildlife scene can be tricky and even become dangerous at times. The tricky part is not to scare the black mamba away. These reclusive snakes are on the constant watch out and detect the slightest movement in their proximity. It is self explanatory that staying undetected is the main priority. But if detected, the snake will most likely disappear and not attack as long as I stay out of its escape route. Nile crocodiles on the other hand are an entirely different story to deal with. These aggressive reptiles will see any intruder as their next possible meal and subsequently attack.


  1. Nice post. The Black Mamba is a nervous and timid snake that will defend itself at the slightest sense of danger. However, as it is not a robust snake it cannot bear close encounters, and it will lash out at anything coming too close relying on its speed and extremely toxic venom. Here's my source:

  2. That's a pretty accurate observation in a nut shell. Thanks for sharing.