Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Snakes and caimans come out

More sightings of creatures in T&T...

Anacondas are not the only members of the reptilean population that are being found outside of their watery habitat. Apparently the caimans, as well as the frogs, are taking advantage of the surplus surface water around these days.

While the presence of the green anaconda in our wetlands has gone generally unnoticed by most people save and except those who look to the area for their livelihood, sightings of caimans in street drains and even in the yards of householders have been common.

Snakes in Trinidad range from some of the largest to some of the smallest in the world. The green anaconda is known as the 'huille' here in Trinidad. Villagers in and around the Nariva area are all too familiar with this creature in this watery habitat.

I remember in 1998 when I had my first real sighting of this large snake. The farmers in the area of Kernahan had caught one in the nearby grasses and were keeping it in a barrel for our crew to view and film. In the past we had always encountered the unmistakable tracks of this creature parting the vegetation through the swampland but actual meeting with it had always eluded us.

When the farmers took the anaconda out of the barrel and threw it onto the ground for us to film, the impact on members of the crew was unforgettable. Everyone ran for cover on seeing this monster as they called it. When it stretched its body in an attempt to make for the grasses, its length was more than twice that of our individual heights.

I have always regretted to this day the fact that the camera crew had been so intimidated by the snake, that not one camera had captured the experience.

The green anaconda is a non-venomous snake and is one of four species of a family of large snakes Boidae in Trinidad. Ill-fated encounters with the anaconda by persons in the wetland have so far been unheard of.

Travelling with my own outfit through Nariva, sightings of the anaconda entailed only parts of its length exposed above the water.

Sightings of the caiman have always created quite a stir among people, too. Locally, the spectacled caiman is common in slow-moving fresh water such as that of dams and fresh-water swamps as well as brackish water such as Caroni Swamp. This species of crocodile is small, growing to a length of about eight feet, when compared to those of the South American continent. The black caiman also inhabits Tobago.

Because of the excess water caused by constant rains, caimans have been migrating to street drains and rain ponds in the back yards of residences. Maybe it is because of its prehistoric appearance likened to the dinosaur that people react with fear when these creatures are seen. Caimans are more or less shy unless forced to go into defensive mode.

Members of one family in Trincity were marooned in their home because they had seen a caiman in their garden and were scared to come out.

The frog community draws that same reaction of panic among persons. Frogs have recently spread out over the land in enjoyment of rain ponds everywhere. I could never understand why this tiny creature causes such fear and panic when it is found in human habitation.

Perhaps more educational programmes could be introduced to help people have a better understanding of the lives we share this land with.

After all, where we have built our communities has in fact been the natural habitats of various species of wildlife. Just as we go into their various territories at times, they, on the other hand, accidentally stray into what we now call ours.

Respect and understanding must be exercised when this occurs.