Black Mambas are fucking terrifying, man. 

They are as skittish as they are graceful, and like most snakes, avoids humans and only attacks in self defense. The problem, however, is that it perceives anything within 40 meters as an immediate threat. You can absolutely aggro it without even knowing. The Black Mamba is also the fastest snake in Africa, and also quite possibly the fastest snake in the world, and it will close those 40 meters VERY fast. Despite its slender frame, it is also quite strong, and with its strength, it can lift its head well off the ground, and even lob itself at you. Most Black Mamba bites on humans are on the upper body. And this killhouse doesn’t bite once, oh no, because of its speed and aggression once engaged, it is known to bite dozens of times when it actually attacks. That leads to severe envenomation, since, well, Black Mamba venom is exceedingly toxic and just one bite is fatal.

Just really don’t fuck with Black Mambas, man.


The secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius) is a very large terrestrial bird of prey. I was fortunate to spot it in East Africa, where it is usually found in the open grasslands and Savannah. Africans call it the Devil’s Horse and it is the national emblem of Sudan as well as a prominent feature on the Coat of arms of South Africa. Thanks to lightning-quick aerial kicks and stomps forceful enough to shatter bone, the secretarybird is a master at immobilizing dangerous prey. A much more formidable hunter than its crane-like appearance would suggest, it is even capable of vanquishing the deadly black mamba, the fastest terrestrial snake in the world. But this skill makes the bird a  popular pet for humans, who rob nests and raise young as Protection from snakes. Meanwhile, prey is becoming harder and harder to find due to habitat degradation. So, only a 100,000 of these bird now survive in the wild.

The treatment is called Fav-Afrique. It’s the only anti-venom approved to neutralize the bites of 10 deadly African snakes, like spitting cobras, carpet vipers and black mambas. And the world’s stockpiles of it are dwindling, Doctors Without Borders said Tuesday. The last batch expires next June.

“I think this is really a health crisis,” says Dr. Gabriel Alcoba, the snakebite medical adviser for Doctors Without Borders. “We’re talking about more than 30,000 deaths per year. This is an epidemic. This is comparable to many other diseases.”

The World Is Running Out Of A Critical Snakebite Antidote

Photo: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Caption: Black mambas are one of the fastest snakes in the world and grow up to 14 feet long. But their venom is no match for the antidote Fav-Afrique.