Black Mamba

About

The black mamba is Africa’s deadliest snake. Untreated, its bite has a fatality rate of 100 percent, making it a killer among killers on a continent where it is thought that nearly 20,000 people die of snake bites each year, and the residents of Swaziland in southern Africa have suffered losses for generations. With essentially no access to anti-venom, many people turn to traditional healers for help, but their herbal remedies always fail, leaving Swazis feeling fearful and defenseless against one of their nation’s most infamous killers.

Swaziland resident Clifton Koen doesn’t really care for snakes, but his wife, Thea Litschka-Koen, is crazy about them. With her husband’s sometimes reluctant help, she has endeavored to change attitudes about black mambas and other snakes found in the area. In addition to starting the nation’s only reptile park, devoted to educating the public and providing a refuge for the animals, the two have become the region’s go-to experts for safe, humane snake removal from homes, schools, resorts and workplaces. In the course of catching and relocating any number of snakes per day, Thea and Clifton give impromptu lessons about the snakes, covering fact and fiction, and do their best to prevent any unnecessary casualties – human or reptile.

In addition to their other efforts, Thea and Clifton developed a program designed to track black mambas in the wild for the first time and to gain new insights into their behavior. With the help of a snake expert from Johannesburg, they were able to surgically insert radio transmitters in a number of captured black mambas, allowing them to follow the snakes after their release. If their research pays off, they may be able to show that their relocations are working, successfully removing snakes from residential areas for the long term, and thereby bringing some relief to the locals and some respite for the snakes.

Black Mamba premiered October 3, 2010.

Photo by Andrew Yarme © Tigress Productions

Production Credits Print

Narrated By
F. MURRAY ABRAHAM

Producer
JO SCOFIELD

Photography
CHRIS OPENSHAW
GAVIN THURSTON

Additional Photography
MAX HUG WILLIAMS
SEAN THOMAS

Sound Recordist
ANDREW YARME

Film Editor
DARREN FLAXSTONE

Music
BARNABY TAYLOR

Dubbing Editor
JAMES BURCHILL

Dubbing Mixer
CHRIS DOMAILLE

Colorist
SIMON BLAND

Online Editor
ALEXIS MOFFATT

Assistant Producer
LAURA HARVEY

Production Co-ordinator
STEPHANIE VARVELL

Production Managers
AMY TWOMEY
LINDA STEPHENS

Head of Production
LYNN SINCLAIR

The producer wishes to thank
CHAD GREGORY
PETSVET
ALL OUT AFRICA
ROYAL SWAZILAND SUGAR CORPORATION

Executive Producer
JEREMY BRADSHAW

For NATURE

Series Editor
JANET HESS

Supervising Producer
JANICE YOUNG

Senior Producer
LAURA METZGER

Producers
JILL CLARKE
IRENE HESS

Production Manager
JULIE SCHAPIRO THORMAN

Production Assistant
JAYNE JUN

Manager
EILEEN FRAHER

Audio Mixer
ED CAMPBELL

HD Online Editor
Patrick Krass

Series Producer
BILL MURPHY

Executive in Charge
WILLIAM GRANT

Executive Producer
FRED KAUFMAN

A co-production of Tigress Productions Limited and Thirteen for WNET.ORG in association with British Broadcasting Corporation.

This program was produced by Thirteen, which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2009 WNET.ORG Properties LLC and Tigress Productions Limited
All rights reserved

Web Credits

Producer
TANNER VEA

Production Assistance
CHIE WITT

Designer
JOY WEEENG

Pagebuilding
BRIAN SANTALONE

Technical Director
BRIAN LEE

Creative Director
NICK MILLER

Director of Digital Strategy
DAVID HIRMES

Senior Director
DANIEL B. GREENBERG

Writer
CHRISTOPHER WADE