Residents of Duguri, a community in Alkaleri Local Government Area of Bauchi State, situated 61 kilometres away from Bauchi, the state capital, are in dire straits. Their community is under invasion by snakes of various breeds and sizes on a poisonous mission to maim and kill.
Amidst poverty and hunger, they are now faced with a more life-threatening situation, with five lives lost to snake bites between May and November, this year. Among 37 other victims of snake bites in the community within the same period, are those either battling to stay alive or lucky to have recovered.
The natives who are predominantly peasant farmers say snakes have taken over not only their community but also their farms; but for fear of dying of hunger, they have resorted to using rain boots, hand gloves and eye glasses to protect themselves while on the farm and maintain a round-the-clock vigilance at home to stay alive.
A flicker of hope for them ignited by regular fumigation of the area by local authorities seemed not to have offered reprieve as the snakes increase in numbers by the day, waning their hope.
“It’s a terrible situation”, says 20-year-old Rabi Duguri, a recent victim of snake bite. “I was in the farm and something bit me not knowing it was a snake until after three days by which time the venom had circulated in my body. We have spent N200, 000 for treatment within eight weeks, but the venom is still much in my system. I am calling on the government and good people of Bauchi state to help me as my leg is already peeling away,” she laments.
Ado Saleh, another victim of snake bite in the community who was lucky to survive. But in his penury, he spent a fortune; a whooping sum of N38, 000 for treatment in Plateau State where doctors battled to save his live.
“Snake bites are becoming too rampant in Duguri because they migrate to the community due to its closeness to Yankari National Park. From May to November 2020, five persons died of snake bites as they were not taken early enough to the hospital, while 37 persons were diagnosed and treated in hospitals in Gombe and Plateau.
Victims of snake bites have to travel to either Plateau or Kaltungo in Gombe State for treatment. Other cases were treated by traditional healers”, said Adamu Suleiman, Secretary, Duguri Ward Development Committee (WDC). He urged the state government to commence clinical services for snake bites in the area.