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Nandi snake lover earns respect for his unusual skill

WEDNESDAY LIFE
By Rael Jelimo | June 29th 2016

Elicky Misoi (38) a farmer from Baraton in Nandi County has been nicknamed ‘Manyoka’ for his unusual love for snakes.

His love affair with snakes began when he was just 11-years-old when his parents, siblings and neighbors noticed his infatuation with the venomous reptiles.

Over the years, Misoi has learned all he can about snakes, curving himself a niche as a respectable environmentalist in Nandi. He now ‘saves’ snakes that have wandered into human habitats by releasing them back into the wild or to the safety of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

“We have come to respect his gifts, he is somewhat of a village wonder possessing this unusual hobby as a snake handler and a lover of snakes,” revealed his brother Daniel Misoi.

The road has however, not been easy for Elicky since to date some villagers cannot dare shake his hand because he handles snakes. He has also been referred to as a witch by others who consider his love for the said reptiles as ‘strange and devilish’ and was shunned by some villagers.

“I cannot explain why I like this particular reptile. All I feel is the need to protect them. Snakes are misunderstood by humans, thought to be dangerous and are always targeted and killed when sighted,” Elicky said.

He continued: “Initially, I would rescue snakes that were about to be killed by humans by offering to catch and release them back to the wild, then the hunger to learn more about snakes crept in.”

He visited the University of Eastern African Baraton snake sanctuary where he met two expert scholars on snakes.

“One was an American professor and the other was from the Philippines, they endeavored to teach me everything I needed to know about snakes,” he said.

Misoi who now commands an impressive knowledge on snakes can not only identify the types of snakes he captures, but can also quickly gauge their venom levels thus the best way to handle it.

His knowledge has also assisted him in identifying the snakes’ natural habitat where he quickly returns them after capture.

“Over the years, I have rescued hundreds of snakes from humans who wanted to kill them. They include: Velvety green night udders, black forest cobras, rhinoceros vipers, the Jackson tree snake and other common house snakes. Nandi has a unique and impressive species of snakes,” Elicky said.

He continued: “Just like all other animal and plant species, snakes have their special role in balancing the ecosystem, killing them destabilises that balance.”

With nothing but a bucket and sticks to hold and move the snakes, Elicky has been bitten twice by the reptiles and says he needs modern snake handling equipment.

The father of two dreams of building a snake park at his home.

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