Our Star of the Week is Mario Guterres, popularly known as ‘The Beastmaster of Rehoboth’, because of his masterful snake-catching skills.
Guterres has managed to save more than a hundred lives over the past seven years and does not only release all caught snakes back into the wild, but also teaches residents of Rehoboth and surrounding areas about the dangers of venomous snakes.
“People in general have a misconception about snakes and just want to kill them. That is wrong. Snakes also have a purpose in life and we must learn to protect and respect them,” says the big, but friendly man.
By last week, ten people had been bitten by snakes in Rehoboth and surroundings since the start of the year. Guterres, who this year alone has freed 147 snakes from houses at the town annually sets close to 350 of these reptiles – both dangerous and non-dangerous – free into the wild.
The Beastmaster freely shares his medical knowledge and expertise of venomous snakes with the local community. “A snake hardly ever poses a danger, Guterres says. “Snakes are not dangerous; it is humans who make them dangerous. I always tell people if it is three metres away, you’re still safe,” he says.
He got the name Beastmaster years ago from a visiting 13-year old American boy who saw him catching a deadly Black Mamba on a lodge in the area. Currently he operates from a small office and is in need of an overhead projector and other furniture to complement his research and conservation efforts.