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Lake Baringo Reptile Park
  About creation of Baringo Museum and Reptile Park  
      Some visitors to Kenya are concerned about coming across snakes- but leave having never seen a single specimen. Indeed, snakes are very rarely seen in Kenya. Their natural behaviour and aversion to humans makes them one of the country’s most elusive creatures.

    For anyone actually interested in seeing snakes, it can be a real challenge. This is a pity, as snakes and other reptiles play as important a role in Kenya’s ecosystem as our grazing mammals or brilliant birdlife. While it is of course not advisable to go in active search of snakes in the wild, without a qualified and knowledgeable local guide- it is worth learning more about Kenya’s reptiles.

   This is the purpose of the all new Community Museum and Reptile Park, which was opened at Lake Baringo on April 15th. The Museum has been established to educate local people and visitors about reptile species. Baringo is well known for its reptiles. Hot, dry and rocky, this is perfect country for lizards and snakes, while the fresh waters of the Lake are home to a healthy population of crocodiles.

    So bountiful is the Lakes supply of fish, that the local Njemps people believe that the crocodiles are too well fed to ever attack humans, and live peaceably alongside them. While this relationship is environmentally admirable, it should be remembered that local legend often contains an element of myth- and taking a swim in the Lake is definitely not advised. A boat trip, however, or a stay on the central Ol Kokwe Island, is a good way to see the local crocs.

    The new museum was established by Community Museums of Kenya, an organization which believes that natural and cultural treasures should not be removed and displayed in distant museums, but retained in their own environment, so that both visitors and local communities can benefit from this wealth of heritage. Last year they opened the Kipsaraman Museum in the Western Highlands to showcase the paleontological treasures of the Tugen Hills.

    The new Museum/Reptile Park was created in conjunction with the Museum National d’ Histoire Naturelle in Paris. The French Government has provided the Community Museum project with technical assistance, and played an active role in establishing the Baringo Museum.

    The museum is open daily, displaying several species of snakes, including the Black Mamba, Puff Adder, Boomslang and Spitting Cobra as well as Monitor Lizards, Crocodiles and a central pit shared by endangered tortoises and harmless Stripe Bellied Sand Snakes.

    Trained staff are on hand to answer queries and give visitors guided tours. The museum plans to work very closely with the Baringo community to educate local people about reptiles and their role in local ecology.

    The Museum was officially opened by the Director of the Museum d’ Histoire Naturelle, Bernard Chevassus, who was delighted to visit Kenya. In his opening speech, he reminded the people of Baringo that the first Museum in the world was created in Africa, 2000 years ago- at Alexandria in Egypt.

    Coming to Kenya, he said, was a dream come true for a Natural Historian, comparable only to “Rome for Christians, or Mecca for Muslims”. The official opening drew many guests, including Kenya’s Minister for Tourism, Raphael Tuju, and representatives of the French Embassy in Nairobi.

    The event was also a gathering for the many communities that live around the lake, including Njemps, Pokot, and Luo. After joining in a series of traditional dances- Mr. Chevassus thanked the people of Baringo for their warm welcome, which he said made him “feel like a Kenyan- not a Njemps, or a Pokot, or a Luo, but still a Kenyan”

    The Director of Community Museums of Kenya, Mr. Eustace Gitonga, was extremely happy to see yet another Museum opened, and was hopeful that this would become a centre for local conservation. Many of Baringo’s reptiles have been threatened by poaching and capture for overseas collection, and it hoped that education by the new Museum would reverse this trend.

    Conservation of reptiles has become a popular issue in Kenya over the past few weeks, with the arrival of a giant python causing local debate near Lake Victoria in Western Kenya.

    The massive 16 foot long snake appeared near Nyakach, and is believed to have emerged from nearby swamplands. Some local people felt that the snake was a threat to goats and other livestock, but for elders of the Luo community, the appearance of the python meant something very different indeed.

    They believed that this was Omieri, a sacred snake believed in Luo tradition to live in the waters of the Nyanza (Lake Victoria) and emerge at times of drought to summon the rains.

    They refused to allow the snake to be harmed, and afforded it protection, feeding it and encouraging it to stay to bring good fortune and guarantee the coming rainy season. Omieri has been living at the village for a month, and is attracting visitors to the region, many of whom believe that seeing the snake will bring them luck.

    Omieri recently gave birth to a clutch of eleven eggs, meaning that her legacy will live on. Local wildlife services have offered to assist with the protection of the python.

    As the rains began to break over Kenya, promising agricultural bounty to come, it seems that Omieri has brought her promised fortune, and may eventually return to the waters of the Lake once again.

Source: Magical Kenya Website (2009)

WZD - Worldwide Zoo Database
2009 - 2019
Zdroje a autoři: WZD, oficiální stránky ZOO, oficiální tiskové a jiné materiály ZOO (není-li uvedeno jinak); Datum poslední aktualizace: 24. 12. 2019
Sources and authors: WZD, official websites of ZOO, official printed and other matters of ZOO (if it is not stated otherwise); Date of last actualization:24. 12. 2019
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