"Water Cobra"

Kasaba Bay, Zambia

Kasaba Bay on the southwestern Zambian shore of Lake Tanganyika.

Location of OBA film 4:3
Lake Tanganyika

(click on maps to enlarge)

Our longest journey on Lake Tanganyika was from Kalambo Lodge, across to Kasaba Bay on the Zambian western shore. Over 60kms, the journey too almost four hours in the lodge skiff.

As we approached the bay we saw five African fish eagles (Haliaeetus vocifer) swooping to take fish from the water surface and I remarked in a "piece to camera" that they might just as easily take a surfacing snake.

Toby concentrating on getting us around the lake and safely back home again. Journeys were often long and cramped
( l-r) Mark, Michael, Terry, Toby, Des,
two of Toby's boys, and Amy.

The lodge in Kasaba bay is run by Barbara and Viv and the Irish Ambassadeur to Zambia was in residence when we arrived.

The secluded Kasaba Bay is inhabited by a large pod of Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) while the rocks along the shore were home to large population of hyraxes, but they would not allow us to get close enough to determine if they were Rock hyraxes (Procavia), Bush hyraxes (Heterohyrax) or Tree hyraxes(Dendrohyrax).


Kasaba Bay, Zambia.
Hippos are dangerous on land, but more dangerous in the water.
Large Nile crocodiles, Crocodylis niloticus, lurk
but are no match for bull hippos !

Water cobras are reported from Kasaba Bay but snorkelling and diving were not possible due to the hippos and several large Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) visible lurking on the outskirts of the hippo pod. The lodge owners had a large crocodile skull, said to be from a croc that attacked a young hippo and was itself attacked and bitten in half by the bull hippo.

We experienced how protective the hippos could be when we ventured too close in our skiff and a bull hippo attacked the back of the boat, precisely where cameraman Des had been seated second earlier - a very close call.

The following morning we found a dead Storm's water cobra (Naja annulata stormsi) floating, bloated in Kasaba Bay a few metres off the jetty. Examination of the specimen showed that my "piece to camera" of the day before had been prophetic, the pre-slough and therefore less alert cobra had been killed by a fish eagle. We reported this case of attempted predation in Herpetological Review, it can be downloaded from the link below.

O'Shea, M. & P.B.McIntyre 2005 Boulengerina annulata stormsi (Storm's water cobra) Attempted predation. Herpetological Review 36(2):189.

Storm's water cobra, Naja annulata stormsi

The specimen was eviscerated and preserved as best we could and stored at Kalambo Lodge, the only water cobra we encountered during the entire expedition.

The jar containing the dead
Storm's water cobra
Naja annulata stormsi