It is not all about war and disaster in South Sudan. Sometimes there is animal terrorism too.

If you have ever been terrorized by snakes and scorpions perhaps you can sympathize with the plight of the Plan South Sudan field staff narrated in the email exchange below. If you haven’t, well, you can have a good chuckle.

But watch out! Karma has bite.

My own advice to all who visit scorpion country is the same: “Never put on a shoe unshaken.”

This exchange started when O___ a Plan South Sudan field officer wrote to his Manager:

Dear A__,

“Regards to you and all the Plan South Sudan staff. It has being a colorful morning in the Program Unit (PU) today. Only that the scorpions and snakes are seriously threatening the PU staff. Even at night you find that scorpions are climbing the bodies of the staff. As a result one of our staff has been stung by a scorpion tonight. He is seriously suffering…”

The officer went on to request a first aid kit, gumboots and torches to battle the vermin.

Soon after another colleague, E___ added her own update:

“A few weeks back a snake invaded us while chatting at the compound and last night another one missed out one of our staff’s toe but ended up spiting poison. We have killed several others including scorpions…”

This opened up a flood of emails, most in sympathy, all offering different pieces of advice. Here is a brief sample:

W____ says: “I am sorry for the situation of our colleagues in the PU. Something must be done to eradicate these dangerous animals. My suggestion is that black stone can solve the problem for now as we look for ways to put an end to the threat.”

I am yet to find out how black stone will solve the problem. I can only imagine; say do you put a scorpion on one black stone and hit it with another?

But L______ has a more religious take on the matter. He writes:

“Snakes and Scorpions are really a threat to the PU Staff. M____ survived narrowly from being beaten by a Snake yesterday. I suggest that the PU Management meets the elders of this area and table the issue to them. Perhaps solutions to mitigate the Snakes and Scorpions’ threats can be reached. My advice to my Colleagues here is to avoid moving with sandals at night. However, much of our protection lies in God’s hands because nobody doubts His divine protection.”

At first the image of M___ narrowly surviving a thrashing from a snake really scares me. Must have been a giant serpent. But then I read the message again and understand that he actually survived being bitten.

J____ seems to have some history with snakes and scorpions, and traditional rituals too:

“It is a challenge my colleagues, he writes “it is their season (he means snakes and scorpions, not Chelsea and Man City). Normally at the beginning of the rainy season because water fills out their holes and forces them to come out looking for a safe and dry place. Secondly as you know that rats usually attract snakes and ants invite Scorpions around. The only thing you should do is to burn tires every day in the evening to keep them away even if you can do it in day light.”

Good advice, assuming you can stand the pungent smell of burning tires, night and day.

But J_____ is not done. He continues:

“You can take courage that the field situation [where you are] is better than places I have been to like Terekeka, Lafon in Eatern Equatoria State and Turale in Warrap state.

The other thing which I would suggest is you visit the neighborhood to assess whether the community are facing the same situation. You can then judge if there is necessity of traditional rituals and… also try to check out some locals owning traditional herbs (anti venom) for snake and scorpions. Believe me that one will be of great help.”

The Scorpion dance. I am familiar with a rather less elegant version of this dance

At the time of writing this, the problem has not yet been solved. But the advice is still flowing in. If you wish, you too can share your own experience or tips on how to deal with snakes and scorpions. I am sure my Plan colleagues will be grateful. Meanwhile here is a great scorpion story I found today.