CCF in Namibia

Bruno’s Snake Bite – An LGD Emergency

  • by Calum O'Flaherty February 23, 2023
Bruno’s Snake Bite – An LGD Emergency

Frontline conservation work, especially in the context of Livestock Guarding Dogs (LGDs), poses unique challenges that require innovative and immediate solutions. The story of Bruno, an LGD who was bitten by a puff adder, highlights the critical importance of having trained and equipped teams in place to handle such emergency situations.

The quick action of the farmer and his workers, who notified the CCF LGD team immediately, was crucial in saving Bruno’s life. The collaboration between the CCF team including our on-site veterinarians, LGD Education Officer Gebhardt Nikanor, local snake expert Francois Theart, and local veterinarian Elvira, was a testament to the strength of the network that exists to support LGD conservation efforts. The fact that the team was able to identify the type of snake that had bitten Bruno and get the dog to the vet practice in time for treatment, is a clear example of how well we all work together as a team.

The success of the Bruno rescue mission is a positive outcome, but it also serves as a reminder of the dangers faced by LGDs on a daily basis. Snake bites are the leading cause of death in the LGD program. Puff adder bites are extremely dangerous and can result in serious harm to both humans and animals. The puff adder is one of the most venomous snakes in Africa, and its venom is a combination of hemotoxins and neurotoxins. Hemotoxins cause severe damage to blood cells and blood vessels, leading to swelling, bruising, and in severe cases, limb amputation. Neurotoxins attack the nervous system, causing paralysis and, in severe cases, death.

Bruno's quick treatment with anti-venom saved his life and prevented the venom from causing any permanent damage. However, it's important to note that anti-venom is not always readily available and that it can be costly. In addition, some snakes have evolved to produce venom that is resistant to available anti-venom.

With support from organizations like Aga-Artenschutz (AGA) and Wilhelma Zoo, we can further awareness of snake danger and develop snake aversion training for LGDs. By reducing the number of snake bites, we can reduce the need for anti-venom and ensure that dogs like Bruno can continue to do their important work of protecting livestock and wildlife.

The unique challenges faced by frontline conservation work in LGD programs require constant vigilance and cooperation from all involved. The success of Bruno’s survival is a shining example of what can be achieved when people work together towards a common goal. We are thankful for the unwavering commitment of all those involved and are confident that, with continued efforts, we will achieve our goal of a safer future for LGDs.

We are very thankful to Francois Theart, Elvira’s Vet Practice, Gebhardt, our on-site vets and all those involved in helping us. We are also thankful for the farmer’s quick action as it made it possible to get the necessary help in time to save Bruno’s life!

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