Mountain biker gets shock of his life at Lake Eland Game Reserve: ‘I’ve never seen anything like that’

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By Quintin van Jaarsveld

A mountain biker came across a giant African Rock Python during a solo ride at Lake Eland Game Reserve in Oribi on Monday.

Johannesburg-based Jean-claude Chanu, visiting his parents in Umkomaas, was traversing the resort’s blue mountain biking trail for the first time when he met two other riders, who told him they had seen a massive snake along the same trail earlier that day.

A curious Chanu went in search of the snake and said he could hardly believe his eyes when he discovered the enormous African Rock Python at about 15.45, moments after it had swallowed a small animal.

“It was an incredible sight,” Chanu told eHowzit.

African Rock Python 02The 40-year-old composed himself and started photographing the snake digesting its prey.

Chanu said its stomach appeared to be stretched to its limit as it feasted on the unknown animal.

“Seeing a snake of that size up close, eating whatever it was eating, was surreal.

“I’ve seen a lot of things and have cycled over a few unsighted small snakes before during rides, but I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Chanu described it as an “unbelievable experience” and said the serpent sighting hasn’t deterred him from riding in the least.

“If anything, it makes it more exciting to ride the trail again.

“That’s the beauty of riding in a game reserve – there’s always a possibility of coming up close to the animals, or in this case, a massive snake.

“It’s a beautiful trail and I look forward to riding it again.”

African Rock Python 06Shona Lawson from Lake Eland Game Reserve said it’s not uncommon for these snakes to live in the area, adding they’re often an ally for cane farmers as they eat pestering rats.

She estimated the snake is in the region of two-and-a-half to three metres long and said they suspect it might’ve eaten a small warthog or impala calf, although this will only be confirmed once the snake fully digests the prey, which takes up to a week.

“We’ve been keeping an eye on the snake since we got word from the rider; it’s moved about a metre from where the rider found it,” she told eHowzit.

Lawson stressed that mountain bikers shouldn’t be alarmed by the sighting.

“These snakes move away from trails as soon as it hears cyclists or cars approaching.

“In this case, it essentially couldn’t move due to the weight of the animal in its stomach.”

Lawson said a large enough meal could last these reptiles up to as long as a year.

African Rock Python 08Photos by Jean-claude Chanu and Lake Eland Game Reserve

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