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Climate Crisis Fuels Surge in Venomous Snakes Migration

The climate crisis is accelerating, and along with it, the migration of species, including venomous snakes, is becoming a major concern. A recent study published in Lancet Planetary Health sheds light on the devastating consequences of global warming on the geographical distribution of these deadly reptiles, primarily in Africa.

According to researchers, changing climatic conditions are driving the migration of many species of venomous snakes to new habitats, potentially leading to a proliferation of these animals in previously unaffected regions. Countries most vulnerable to this threat include Niger and Namibia, where the influx of venomous snakes could occur on a large scale, jeopardizing the health and safety of local populations.
By 2070, the habitat of several species of venomous snakes such as rattlesnakes, cobras, mambas, and the West Gabonese viper could expand significantly, by up to 250% in some cases. This expansion is largely due to the degradation of tropical and subtropical ecosystems caused by climate change and human activities.
The consequences of this migration of venomous snakes are alarming. These reptiles pose a serious threat to public health, with millions of envenomation cases from bites occurring worldwide each year. In Africa, where medical resources and supplies of antivenom are often limited, the arrival of new species of venomous snakes could lead to a significant increase in the number of deaths and permanent disabilities.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified venomous snakebites as one of the most important neglected tropical diseases to monitor, emphasizing the urgent need for action in the face of this growing threat. Each year, between 80,000 and 138,000 people die as a result of snakebites in Africa, and approximately 400,000 others suffer amputations or permanent injuries, adding to the heavy burden on already fragile health systems.
To address this threat, concerted action is needed at the local, national, and international levels. African governments must invest in the prevention and management of snakebite envenomations by strengthening health systems and ensuring adequate access to antivenom treatment. Additionally, climate change monitoring and prevention measures must be implemented to mitigate the adverse effects on biodiversity and public health.
The spread of venomous snakes in Africa, exacerbated by climate change, presents a major challenge for public health and biodiversity conservation. It is imperative to act quickly and effectively to prevent the disastrous consequences of this emerging threat and protect vulnerable populations from snakebites.
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