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Last Updated: Friday, 16 May, 2003, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Kenya python tightens its grip
Omweri on Kenyan TV news
Omweri is nesting in a villager's home

A python which was originally revered by the inhabitants of the village of Wasare, in western Kenya, for its fortune-bringing powers is now proving to be less of a blessing.

The 16-foot-long python, Omweri, appeared in the village in February, Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper says.

But over the past few days it has begun to hatch dozens of eggs, prompting fears that Wasare may be swamped by its offspring. The new alarm comes after concern a week ago that heavy floods might wash Omweri and its eggs away.

"This thing has hatched so many eggs and we are afraid we may soon be infested with dangerous pythons. The snakes must not be left to roam freely here in Wasare," one of the villagers, Agnes Auma, told the paper.

They are now calling for government assistance to deal with the problem.

Samuel Ochieng Okumu, whose home Omweri has chosen for its hatchery, thinks the government has to help by funding a snake park.

"These young snakes are now too many. The government must step in and take full responsibility for them," he said.

Okumu says he's too frightened to leave his home to tend his cows or go fishing, and has even offered an acre of his own land for the snake park.

The python feeds on a goat every two weeks

Kenya's environment minister, Newton Kulundu, has promised to provide 25,000 shillings to fence off the snake's den, but a local official said the money still hadn't arrived.

The East African Standard said in turn there are fears about the villagers' lack of expertise in snake handling.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), which has been monitoring the snake, has warned that Omweri may be aggressive after hatching.

The local KWS boss, Alfayo Barasa, said the residents have been told to keep their distance.

"The snake is still calm but we are not taking any chances," he said.

The hatchings have also been followed by Kenyan TV news, which has updated viewers on the villagers' "joy and anxiety".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

Kenyans charmed by snake
11 Mar 03  |  Africa

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