In Brief

Nigerian university calls in snake charmers after student death

Economics student Zainab Umar died following reports of numerous reptiles on campus

Snakes

A university in Nigeria has called in snake charmers to help rid its campus of a reptile problem, following the death of a student who was bitten by a snake earlier this month

Economics student Zainab Umar died last week, three days after suffering the bite at Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University in Katsina, north-west Nigeria

The dean of student affairs, Dr Suleiman Kankara, said charmers had been hired following the incident.

“We normally hire the snake charmers whenever we get report of presence of snakes on the campus. It is unfortunate that the lady died. We know we tried our best to prevent her death,” he told the Nigerian Daily Post.

Dr Kankara also added that against medical advice, Umar was taken away by her friends and her brother from the university clinic where she had been receiving treatment.

“Zainab was bitten by a snake on Friday evening and she was promptly treated at our health centre,” he explained.

“I spoke with her mother on phone on Saturday that she should be allowed to continue her treatment. I later checked the clinic on Saturday evening only to learn that her friends and her brother had taken her away from the clinic against medical advice.”

Snake charming is commonly practiced in south Asian countries but also in parts of Africa.

Snake charmers typically play a flute which the snake appears to respond to, often at close striking range. “Astonishingly, the snake seems reluctant to strike despite a flared hood in the case of cobras,” says the BBC.

In Nigeria, snake charmers physically handle cobras with their bare hands in street performances and sometimes involve members of their audience, adds the broadcaster.

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