Gaboon Viper AntiVenom

When I was 23, I was hired as a field assistant for a site in Kakamega, Kenya studying blue monkeys. It was my first experience with fieldwork, and my first trip to Africa, and I was gone for 3 months. Because it was 2003, we could only access the internet every 6 days when we had the day off and were able to take a matatu from the small forest village of Isecheno into the bigger “town” of Kakamega. It was there we could find an internet café, and, with very slow speeds, send and receive emails with our loved ones.

One day in the forest, my fieldmate and I came across a dead snake. We already had latex gloves for fecal collection, so we put on gloves and examined the snake, and honestly, it was so big and fierce looking that it was really exciting. Later in the day, we were told by the Forest Warden that it was a gaboon viper, and that they were often killed by people who were, perhaps rightfully, afraid of them.

When I had my day off, I filled my emails home with tales of the viper.

A week later, I came back into town to check my email, and found approximately 15 emails from my dad of escalating intensity, starting with cut and paste information about the Gaboon Viper and how dangerous it was. The emails that followed were