On average one to four people die from snake bite in Australia each year, with many more needing hospitalization and treatment with antivenom. The eastern brown snake, which accounts for the majority of snake-bite related deaths in Australia, is regularly encountered by people at the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) in Canberra. Past attempts to reduce the risks associated with this species’ habitation of the ANBG have been hampered by a lack of information about the snake population. Therefore, between spring 2006 and autumn 2008 staff implanted passive integrated transponders into eight adult snakes (4 male and 4 female snakes). Data was collected on snake demographics, activity ranges, ‘hot spot’ areas, foraging behavior, and shelter sites. This information was analyzed using GIS technology. Using GIS allowed for rangers to establish the minimum number of snakes inhabiting the site. This information is critically important as it allows staff to identify any changes to the snake population that may occur over time and to alter any risk management strategies accordingly. Also mapping the overlapping range areas has allowed rangers to identify and then target ‘snake hotspot’ areas with specific management activities.
By making an effort to understand the characteristics of the resident snake population, rangers hope to be able to continue to protect human life while at the same time conserving the ANBG’s eastern brown snake population.
For more information, please take a look at the study here.
Melissa Lawrence, Social Marketing Administrator, VERTICES, LLC