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Guinea-Bissau: Snakes invade paradise islands

Guinea-Bissau: Snakes invade paradise islands


According to the African Society of Venomology, nearly one million people are bitten each year in Africa, and more than 20,000 victims do not survive.

On the island of Soga, in the Bijagos’s archipelago, in Guinea-Bissau, there are vipers, cobras and even mambas knowned as “cacuba” in the region.

Gina was bitten by a snake three months ago but she still feels some pains.

“It bit me but I never saw it. I thought it was a piece of wood. When i looked i saw blood flowing . I was carried home because I couldn’t walk”, she explained.

In the archipelago, only the island of Bubaque has a hospital. In case of an incident, it takes more than five hours to reach the Bissau capital by the sea. Victims don’t often have a choice.

Victims often go on the island of Formosa, which is reputed for its healers.

“I’ve seen people bitten by snakes who died. The ‘Cacuba’ are the most venomous, most often when they bite you, you don’t survive. They are often in the trees and palm leaves”,said Cacutus Avis, a resident of the island.

For lack of demand, the pharmaceutical group have stopped production of some sera, causing a price hike and making these treatments unaffordable for the poor. WHO now hopes to attract the interest of new laboratories for the African market, whose potential is estimated at EUR 40 million.

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