Visitors on the Wild Side of Lake Tanganyika – I

Black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis)

Black Mamba – Wikipedia

Updated 9-11-12

Part II is here:Visitors on the Wild Side of Lake Tanganyika – II

Over the years I have enjoyed (or not) the gifting, invasion, or other means of learning about the creatures of this part of central Africa.  Wildlife here in Burundi tends to be on the small side – perhaps in keeping with a small, and now densely populated country.

Snakes.  Yes, we have many – most poisonous.  Snakes like to come into houses if they can find a way, and often end up in the bedroom. 

Several years ago I awakened to the cats frantic hissing, to discover a relatively huge (yes, huge) Black Mamba under the bed.

Black mambas are not always black. They get their name from the inside of their mouth. Source: Nat.Geog.

Black mamba. Source:

I called Zac, one of the outside staff, to come to the house to see what we could do with it.

Zac says ‘Howdy, what’s up!?’

Zac says ‘howdy, what’s up?’ (or something like that, knowing I’d not call him to the house at about 3am unless there was an emergency.

Zac kills the snake and takes it outside

Zac poses with the snake

Green Mambas are also bad news.  Very poisonous; we have had a few that were seen out where the goats are.

Green Mamba. Like hiding in trees.

Our goat herders automatically stand and walk where there is little brush, to avoid snakes.

Puff Adders are hugely round, a bit short and also a bit sluggish.  But a deadly bite.  I once ran over one on the road near the compound, by mistake.

Puff Adder, also not very friendly.

Nile Monitor Lizards are another reptile that is very common here – and although they are cranky and can grow up to 9 feet, they are not dangerous (to people) as long as not cornered – and as long as you’re bigger than a 2-year-old.  But they do like small livestock, dogs, cats, chickens, etc.

‘Pet’ monitor lizard. Not a good idea. Source: zoo2you

Smaller ones that the above picture  have from time to time climbed trees overhanging one of our goat houses, preparing to lunge down for the kill.  Usually the dogs announce the presence of a monitor lizard, and the workers then chase it about hoping to catch and kill it – the flesh is very good, according to locals. A bit like chicken.

This is the size we normally have around here – a good size for roasting. Source:

There are also beautiful colored lizards such as this one:

We have smaller lizards with flashy colors

During the rainy season one sometimes finds very strange frogs – at least not so common, like the following, who actually made it into the house.

An uncommon type of frog, that appears during certain times of the year.  This fellow is sick.

Moths and butterflies – not so many.  This Night Moth I found inside of the house a while back:

A night moth that found its way into the house, about 4″ across

In the past, there were various animals that now have disappeared, or are close to disappearing, including the following –

Two chimps that lived at the Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika, whom I looked after, until they became too large for their enclosure and we donated them to the local wildlife sanctuary.  Here, I have just given them some popcorn, which they loved as a treat.

In former times, leopard skins were appropriate wear for princes and notables. Prince Bishinga, c. 1910. Source: Meyer – Les Barundi

Throughout the Great Lakes region of central Africa the wearing of leopard skins was so carefully ascribed only to royalty or elite, that Speke records in one of his travel books of the mid-Nineteenth Century that a young fellow appearing at their camp in the area of Lake Victoria wearing a leopard skin was quickly and roundly chastised.  He was trying to pass himself off as the son of a local leader – which he was not.

Elephants, too, were to be found in times past, though apparently not many. Most elephants lived to the west of us – in the Congo. The last elephant seen near us – in the Rusizi Wetlands, down the lake – was in the 1970’s. Source: c. 1960’s.

Part II is here:  Visitors on the Wild Side of Lake Tanganyika – II

About dianabuja

With a group of BaTwa (pygmy) women potters, with whom we've worked to enhance production and sales of their wonderful pots - fantastic for cooking and serving. To see the 2 blogs on this work enter 'batwa pots' into the search engine located just above this picture. Blog entries throughout this site are about Africa, as well as about the Middle East and life in general - reflecting over 35 years of work and research in Africa and the Middle East – Come and join me!
This entry was posted in Africa-Central, Burundi, Chimpanzees, Elephants, Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika2, Leopards, Living here, Snakes, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Visitors on the Wild Side of Lake Tanganyika – I

  1. Pingback: Christmas Celebrations at the Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika | DIANABUJA'S BLOG: Africa, The Middle East, Agriculture, History and Culture

  2. Wow, I like snakes but I would not enjoy waking up and finding any venomous snake under my bed – never mind a black mamba. I suppose you get used to such creatures, but when I see a green mamba at the local zoo here in the US I get the heebie-jeebies! Interesting pictures, though.


    • dianabuja says:

      No, it was not a welcomed experience and I have the vision of the snake curled up under the bed as a ‘photo’ in my mind. Happily the cats alerted me and at the same time did not try to attack it! Glad you’ve enjoyed the pix and hope to see you again back here!


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  6. Pingback: Another Black Mamba Gets in the House | DIANABUJA'S BLOG

  7. Pingback: Visitors on the Wild Side of Lake Tanganyika – II « Dianabuja's Blog

  8. Pingback: The Life of Monitor Lizards along Lake Tanganyika « Dianabuja's Blog

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