IBS herpetologist trains OVCCA’s frontliners on snake ID, catching

IBS herpetologist trains OVCCA’s frontliners on snake ID, catching

September 22, 2017

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by UPLB OVCCA

“Snakes are a work of art – they are colorful, majestic, mysterious, and sometimes they are venomous.”

            Thus said Dr. Leticia E. Afuang, associate professor of herpetology and wildlife conservation at the Animal Biology Division of the UPLB Institute of Biological Sciences (ABD-IBS). She served as the resource speaker during the whole-day training conducted by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs (OVCCA) on the familiarization and identification of snakes for its frontline staff of on 18 September 2017 at the CAS Annex 1 Building.

Snake 101

             The training primarily aimed for the participants to be able to properly identify and handle various snake species, especially those found in Mt. Makiling. It also aimed for them to be able to know how to handle snakes properly.

             The training kicked off with a lecture and documentary screening by Dr. Afuang in the morning about the anatomy, taxonomy, and behavior of snakes. She also facilitated a snake specimen viewing session in the Wildlife Laboratory of the ABD.

Snake 101. Dr. Afuang shows various snake species preserved in the Wildlife Biology Laboratory of ABD-IBS to the participants. (Photo credits: Miguel Victor T. Durian)

            She told the participants not to be afraid of snakes, because most often, snakes are the ones who are more afraid of humans.

            In the afternoon, Dr. Afuang took the participants on a field trip to the cobra farm of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Bay, Laguna to view live snakes in action.

            Staff at the farm toured the participants around the facility and described how they study and make antivenin vaccines for use at the RITM. They also demonstrated how to ethically catch and handle various snake species using proper equipment.

            After the training, the participants claimed that they now had a proper understanding of snakes and their behavior, and they have had a better appreciation of the creatures.

            The training was participated in by the leaders of all the teams of the Operations Section of the University Police Force (UPF) and Community Support Brigade (CSB), foremen and dormitory staff of the UPLB Housing Office (UHO), emergency response personnel of the University Health Service (UHS), and staff at UPLB’s hostel, the Obdulia F. Sison Hall (OFSH), managed by the Business Affairs Office (OVCCA).

THE HERPETOLOGISTS. VC Serlie Jamias with Dr. Afuang and her two graduate students and herpetologists-in-training, Mr. Deolito Bicua and Mr. Kier Pitogo.

Mt. Makiling, A Wildlife Haven

            Sitting at the foot of the biodiversity-rich Mt. Makiling, UPLB has a natural laboratory right in its own backyard. Its immediate surroundings is a natural habitat for a multitude of wildlife, including snakes.

            Hence, staff housing beneficiaries, private housing owners in the campus, and dormitories, especially the ones located in the upper campus, are frequented by such creatures.

            In fact, Vice Chancellor Serlie Barroga-Jamias, who is also a housing beneficiary of the University, was herself visited by one just two days before the training, she shared in her inspirational message.

UNEXPECTED VISITOR. The red snake that “visited” VC Jamias.

            One Saturday morning in her home at UPCO, VC Jamias noticed that her lovebirds had stopped singing in their cages. Thinking that the strong winds of the recent typhoon had killed them, she inspected the cage, only to find a red snake that could not get out of the cage because it had swallowed of the lovebirds.

            Based on her experience and the emergency calls that she receives, people immediately turn to the operatives of the UPF, who she claimed were the main participants of the training. Hence, she hoped that the training would enable the OVCCA’s frontliners to assist members of the UPLB community with their “snake problems”.

UPF TO THE RESCUE. One of the members of the UPF was able to catch the snake and place it safely in a cage.

OVCCA Seminar Series

             The activity is part of a series of trainings that the OVCCA is currently conducting for the professionalization and development of its frontline staff. Two upcoming trainings from the series include basic business writing on 25 September 2017 and basic photography for office events documentation on 2 October 2017. (Miguel Victor T. Durian)

SAY ‘SNAKE’. VC Jamias, Dr. Afuang, and the OVCCA participants pose for a photo-op after the training.


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