Many venomous snakes will have to migrate, thousands of deaths expected?

Many venomous snakes will have to migrate, thousands of deaths expected?
Many venomous snakes will have to migrate, thousands of deaths expected?

The dangers linked to global warming are numerous, and for some unexpected. According to a study published in March 2024 in the journal The Lancet Planetary Healthmany venomous snakes are expected to migrate to new countries, for example, as explained The Guardian. Which could have serious consequences for local populations.

A geographical reconfiguration

“We urgently need to better understand how exactly this will affect where bites occur and how many people are bitten, so we can prepare,” said Anna Pintor, a researcher with the WHO’s neglected tropical diseases group. In total, nearly 209 species of venomous snakes are expected to move by 2070. Some, such as the Gaboon viper, the European asp or the horned viper, will even see their habitable areas double.

For a majority of these snakes, however, the range is expected to decrease due to the increasing destruction of tropical and subtropical habitats for the benefit of livestock farming and agriculture. While some species are able to adapt to agricultural landscapes, others are expected to migrate en masse to countries such as Nepal, China, Myanmar in Asia, or Niger and Namibia in Africa.

Populations in danger

However, as the study explains, these poor regions are little or even unprepared for the dangers involved in these snake migrations, both in terms of care and technical knowledge relating to these species.

“Our research shows that when venomous snakes appear in new places, it is a wake-up call that prompts us to think about how we can ensure our safety,” said Pablo Ariel Martinez, from the Brazilian University. from Sergipe, and Talita Amado, from the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research in Leipzig.

138,000 deaths per year

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.8 to 2.7 million people are bitten by a venomous snake each year. These bites are responsible for 138,000 deaths and 400,000 amputations and permanent disabilities.

The researchers therefore invited countries to further share their knowledge in the management of venomous snakes. “After all, international borders are not made for snakes, but for humans,” concluded Soumyadeep Bhaumik, professor of medicine at the University of New South Wales in Sydney (Australia).

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