lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

W is for Wagner’s Viper

This stunning photo of a female and two young Wagner’s vipers is by Mario Schweiger, and is used by permission.

wagn babypaar 1b karakurt 8-89

Wagner’s viper was first discovered and described by German naturalist Moritz Wagner in 1846. Sadly he mislabelled the specimen’s place of habitat and so it was unseen for another 140 years, and presumed extinct. Then it was rediscovered on a road in eastern Turkey, its actual habitat, where it now lives mainly in one river valley about 1,600 and 1,900m above sea level.

Unfortunately, due to its rather attractive colouring, and rarity value, publication of the whereabouts of this beautiful snake brought a massive number of collectors to the area, mainly from Europe. They took large numbers of snakes, especially gravid females. So many in fact, that over succeeding years the snake suffered a devastating loss to its population.

Worried scientists worked to get the snake listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which bans international trade of species without export permits. But sadly 80% of these snakes had already disappeared. Furthermore a dam on the river in its territory threatened to destroy its habitat.

Today the snake is classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and zoos (Saint Louis Zoo in particular) have instituted a breeding programme to bring the snake back from the brink.

Here is my poem:

.

Wagner’s Viper

.

On the rocky mountain slopes

around the rivers and the lake,

in coils of camouflaging scales

dwells the Wagner’s viper snake,

.

but every year more disappear

their future has been sold,

for the beauty of their souls

has been drawn in bronze and gold.

.

© Liz Brownlee

.

Information from:

Wikipedia.

Scientific American.

Image © Mario Schweiger and used by permission.

Prose and Poem © Liz Brownlee, all rights reserved, not to be used in any manner whatsoever without the permission of the author.

 

 

33 Comments

  1. Not a snake person….

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    • 🙂 I prefer not to meet them out on walks… but they prefer not to meet us more!

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  2. Great poem:)

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  3. paulakaye

    Eeek! A snake. I liked the poem

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  4. Well, that’s something I’ve learned today! .Love your poetic summing up

    My A-Z story features 4 neglected W words

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  5. This is so sad and your poem brings the sadness of the snake to the forefront. What a shame.

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  6. Thanks for calling around at OMBH… I have a lot of catching up to do!! 😉
    AJ at Ouch My Back Hurts

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  7. Oh Liz, this was a scary post for me. I am petrified of snakes. Had to quickly scroll down to avoid focusing on the pictures and read only the text. Feel sad for the snakes, but …

    Aneeta from
    How to Tell a Great Story

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    • Oh, Aneeta, I am sorry! Tomorrow is not scary at all, rather sweet!

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  8. Snakes scare me, but this is just sad. Why do people think they need to put something in their homes/collections just because it is beautiful. Leave it alone, already! (Of course, now I’m wondering if I’m guilty. The only critters in my house are cats and I’m confident they’re not endangered. Ditto all the houseplants. I think I’m okay.)

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    • Ha! I do the same thing, remember when I was a child and captured slow worms to keep and things like that… didn’t know any better then!

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  9. Great poem, great photo. Very informative.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

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  10. Thea O'Brian

    It is amazing how many things are out there that are extinct. All of Gods wonders.
    I bet there are things that haven’t even been discovered yet.
    http://enchantedfantasies.blogspot.com/

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    • Oh, yes – particularly insects. 900,000, nearly a million insects have been described, but they think there are THIRTY million yet undescribed!

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  11. What beautiful snakes, Liz. I’ve never really been afraid of snakes – I think, like spiders, they either put the fear of god into you or they don’t. I would be thrilled to bits if I came across one of these, but from what you’ve said that seems unlikely. Your poem is fabulous, by the way. 🙂

    Susan A Eames from
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

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    • Thanks so much, Susan. Yes, I’ve never been scared of them, but then, I live in a country without any dangerous snakes!

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  12. The poem described the wagners viper so well!

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  13. Found you! Thanks for visiting my A-Z. I love Lola. What breed is she – a Doodle?

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    • Hi! She’s an Austrailian labradoodle – you can tell what they will turn out like!

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  14. I have never encountered a viper, but I have spotted many rattlesnakes on walks and hikes here in Southern California. One even slithered super close to a walking path I was on in the city, and some girl just said nonchalantly, “Oh you have to be careful of snakes.” That made me wonder: could I have to be bitten by this particular snake, and she would have just looked at me, made a comment, and then walked away? Also, our family dog was bitten by a rattlesnake on a hike, and my dad and a friend had to carry him several miles to a vet. Thus, I realize I always need to be aware of rattlesnakes as sometimes they even show up on the grass in urban areas since they live all around us.

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    • Rattlers on the whole will rattle to warn you before biting, as it will deprive them of energy and is a dangerous action for them, too- it’s a good idea to walk noisily as it warns the snakes you are coming and they can get away, which they’ll much prefer to do!

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  15. I hate snakes but as long as we’re not in close proximity, I accept they have a place in creation — they eat rodents and help balance small animal populations. It’s a shame we don’t always value the beauty (even the icky and scary beauty) we’ve been given.

    http://lovedasif.com

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    • It certainly is! All these fears have had a serious place in our past, and some people I think probably have a genetic memory of family or themselves being bitten. Snakes should be viewed with caution, but also respected.

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    • I really think that some people have a genetic memory of snakes as a real threat – and some are, in close proximity. They should be viewed with caution! But also respected.

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  16. Sad facts and sad poem. I feel snakes are beautiful even if they can seem dangerous. But fascination wins me over, I think.

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    • Yes, there are some fabulously beautiful ones. It seems extraordinary to live a life as just a spine!

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