The Saint Lucia fer de lance is an endangered pitviper that is widely feared because of its potentially deadly bite. For many years, schoolchildren were erroneously taught that these snakes were brought to Saint Lucia to control runaway slaves. The Saint Lucia fer de lance is in fact unique to this country and rarely bites, but it is often killed on sight and is now listed as endangered. Both FFI and Durrell are providing technical support to implement a management plan that aims to reduce the number of snake bites island-wide by at least 80% and prevent human deaths and disabilities from snake bite while also ensuring that the national population of fer de lance is stable and its benefits are better understood. This involves collaborating with medical professionals, farmers, teachers, foresters, biologists and other stakeholders on Saint Lucia. Recent activities include providing protective footwear to persons who work in areas where the fer de lance occurs, streamlining access to effective antivenom treatment, and updating school textbooks with helpful information on snake-bite first aid and what to do if you encounter a snake.
Though less than 616 km2 in area, Saint Lucia is exceptionally rich in animals and plants. The country is home to well over 2,000 native species, of which nearly 200 species occur nowhere else.
Species on the brink
Almost 8,000 species of fish, amphibian, reptile, mammal and bird are officially categorised as globally threatened, and over 9,600 tree species are in danger of extinction.