Johannesburg – After ten of his snakes died, Bhekani Vilakazi now has a total of 26 snakes that he keeps as ‘domestic animals’ at Gooderson Duma Lodge & Traditional Village in KwaZulu-Natal.
Twenty-five-year-old Vilakazi was fond and fascinated by reptiles from the tender age of ten. The love for animals continued to grow until he ended up with 36 snakes. He said keeping the snakes were at times very expensive, because he had to feed them special food and keep them in warm.
“I love nature. I love animals. You cant take that love away from me. Unfortunately, some of my snakes died but I was only left with 26 in my house. These snakes are like my babies, I have to keep an eye on them 24 hours a day and I have to feed them – that’s the most important part.”
He said although community members call him a ‘witch’, the love he has for the colourful snakes is like brotherly love. He wakes up at around 4 o’clock in the morning and prepares for work.
Going to work is something that he enjoys more, knowing that he has to take care of the reptiles.
“I feed them but not always. These animals sometimes go for days without food depending on the weather. I don’t forget to feed them, because I have got too much love for these creatures. Even during my lunchtime, I go and check them if they are still there, sometimes I feel paranoid because of the love that I have for this park,” said Vilakazi, who has been working at the park for two years.
Vilakazi said he feeds the animals raw meats. “ To feed them is the difficult part” he said. "Other snakes don’t eat but you have to be careful. Keep your eyes on them because they move swiftly when they want to attack."
One of Vilakazi’s dreams is to have more pythons, cobras and black mambas in a bid to teach people more about snakes.