Team in Florida captures huge python using tracking devices

This handout photograph, obtained April 7, 2019 courtesy of the Big Cypress National Preserve, shows a team of hunters with the Big Cypress National Preserve holding a female python measuring over 17 feet in length and weighing 140 pounds with 73 developing eggs. (AFP)
Updated 08 April 2019
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Team in Florida captures huge python using tracking devices

  • With anywhere from 30,000 to 300,000 pythons now in southern Florida, the US Interior Department banned their importation in 2012

MIAMI: Researchers in Florida using a new approach to combating a destructive invasion by enormous pythons have captured one of the biggest ever, a 17-foot-long (5.2 meters) specimen large enough to eat a deer, they said.
The female snake is longer than a one-story building is high, and weighs 140 pounds (64 kilograms).
It is one of the biggest pythons ever caught in southern Florida, according to a post on the Facebook page of the Big Cypress National Preserve.
The researchers found the enormous reptile by using male pythons fitted with radio transmitters, allowing them to track the male and locate breeding females, according to the post.
“The team not only removes the invasive snakes, but collects data for research, develops new removal tools and learns how the pythons are using the preserve,” the park said.
The 17-footer was found to contain 73 developing eggs. The reptiles have no natural predators in Florida and multiply rapidly, posing “significant threats to native wildlife,” the researchers said.
The snakes can decimate native wildlife, killing small animals like rabbits, birds and opossums, and even eating creatures as large as alligators and adult deer.
The Burmese python is considered an invasive species since it first appeared in the area in the 1980s.
With anywhere from 30,000 to 300,000 pythons now in southern Florida, the US Interior Department banned their importation in 2012.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has sponsored hunting programs to target the reptiles.
But such efforts have failed to slow their spread, and the commission in 2017 held hearings around the state to seek creative ideas for containing the monstrous creatures.
Among the ideas to emerge: introducing snake-killing Australian terrier dogs, stringing barbed wire around trees to protect birds, or using drones fitted with infrared sensors to conduct aerial surveillance.
Another idea — introducing mongooses, which are famed in Asia for their ability to kill cobras — came from one Victoria Olson of Fort Lauderdale.
“They have been successful in Puerto Rico & The US Virgin Islands to eradicate snakes and yes, they can kill a python,” she said, according to the Sun-Sentinel newspaper of Fort Lauderdale.
Pythons are not known as being particularly brainy. Since some have choked to death on golf balls they thought were eggs, one man suggested setting out hundreds of fake eggs.
Asked about such ideas, a state wildlife spokeswoman noted diplomatically that public input is greatly valued.
But, she told the Sun-Sentinel, “we want to give each suggestion the time for evaluation it deserves.”


US man drowns while proposing underwater in Tanzania

Steven Weber and Kenesha Antoine. (Social media)
Updated 22 September 2019

US man drowns while proposing underwater in Tanzania

  • It is unclear what went wrong during the proposal at Pemba Island, a popular honeymoon destination

NAIROBI: An American man has drowned while proposing to his girlfriend underwater at an idyllic island off the coast of Tanzania, a luxury resort said in a statement Sunday.
His girlfriend Kenesha Antoine posted on her Facebook page footage of Steven Weber proposing to her through the window of their underwater hotel room at the luxury Manta Resort in Zanzibar.
“You never emerged from those depths so you never got to hear my answer, ‘Yes! Yes! A million times, yes, I will marry you!!’,” she wrote Friday in a post confirming his death.
Her video shows Weber swimming up to the window, and pressing a handwritten note against it which read: “I can’t hold my breath long enough to tell you everything I love about you, but everything I love about you I love more every day. Will you please be my wife, marry me.”
He then pulled out a ring as Antoine squealed with joy while filming.
It is unclear what went wrong during the proposal at Pemba Island, a popular honeymoon destination.
“We never got to embrace and celebrate the beginning of the rest of our lives together, as the best day of our lives turned into the worst, in the cruelest twist of fate imaginable,” Antoine wrote.
“Knowing him, always quick with an off-color joke, he’s probably entertaining someone with a story about how he royally screwed up that proposal and died while being extra.”
Manta CEO Matthew Saus confirmed to AFP in an email Sunday that “a male guest tragically drowned while freediving alone outside the underwater room” on Thursday.
“The accident is currently under investigation by the local Zanzibar police authority.”
The couple were staying in the resort’s famed “Underwater Room,” a $1,700 (1,500 euro) a-night floating structure offshore in crystal clear waters, where the bed is surrounded by glass windows looking into the ocean.