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Title: Snakes of Zaire and Their Bites
Authors: CHIFUNDERA, Kusamba
Keywords: Zaire
Snake bites
Antivenomous plants
Issue Date: Feb-1990
Publisher: The Center for African Area Studies, Kyoto University
Journal title: African Study Monographs
Volume: 10
Issue: 3
Start page: 137
End page: 157
Abstract: The ophidiological survey made in Zaire revealed the presence of 152 species of snakes included in 60 genera and in 8 families. The family Colubridae contains the largest number of genera (45) and species (97). Their geographical distribution shows that the eastern part of Kivu region contains a wild variety of species (90 species). The density of Zairean snakes has not yet been known. But in some localities like Kamanyola in the Kivu province, the density is as high as 80 individuals per square kilometer for the vipers. Other areas like Kinsuka in the vicinity of Kinshasa has as many as 10 species within the same area. Snakes are found in the forest, the savanna and in the aquatic milieu. Some species are arboreal and others live in the mountain regions. Evolutionary considerations based on the anatomical observations indicate that the equatorial forest of the Northern Zaire contains some of the most ancient and conservative forms of snakes. Some are considered to be the most evolved and specialized form of snakes in the world. The frequencies of the snake bites at the sanitary sectors are surveyed. According to the epidemiological data on snake bites, envenomations constitute a serious problem for the public health. Mortality is 6 to 14.3% (mean 8%) of the total snake bites from 1979 to 1986. Bites are most frequent during the agricultural activities. In the savanna of Kivu, which shows the tropical climate, the bites are recorded in the rainy season. The dangerous snakes have been identified: 79 species (51%) are venomous, including vipers, elapids and opisthoglyphous colubrids which are the most dangerous. The treatment of snake bites to reduce mortality and morbidity is applied according to the principles of modern medicine (using antivenom sera) and of the traditional methods (using traditional drugs). The phytotherapy against envenomation is known in Zaire and in many other countries of Africa. Phytochemical screening of these plant drugs is being made for testing their biological activities, and the pharmacological analysis is being carried our for the confirmation of the presence of any antivenomous substance.
DOI: 10.14989/68053
Appears in Collections:Vol.10 No.3

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