The Conservation and Management of the Endemic Fer-de-Lance is vital to Saint Lucia. The Saint Lucia National Trust in collaboration with the Forestry and Land Resources Department of the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology will, this week, host training sessions promoting the safe handling of the Fer-de-Lance.

The initiative is part of a Global Environment Facility Small Grants Program funded project titled "The Conservation and Management of the Endemic Fer-de-Lance on the Small Island Developing State of Saint Lucia."

Saint Lucia seeks to implement measures to ensure the Fer-de-Lance is tolerated, because it is endemic to the island and its eradication will result in its extinction. Preliminary research has also revealed that the Fer-de-Lance may contain substances that may be beneficial to the medicinal community.

Trainers from the Kentucky Reptile Zoo (KRZ) and local medical doctors will conduct the conservation training sessions from Jan 25 - 29. Target groups include forest rangers, utility workers, surveyors, Babonneau Youth Synergy, the Saint Lucia National Trust, the Red Cross, Saint John’s Ambulance, farmers and residents in snake-prone communities.

The training sessions seek to implement measures to ensure that people at risk for snake bites: get training and access to subsidized resources to prevent snake bites, and access to health care if they are bitten; develop, implement and monitor a zero-kill policy for the Fer-de-Lance within all forest reserves in Saint Lucia; and reduce the risks and complications from snake bites by increasing public awareness through the dissemination of factual information in communities and to workers with a high probability of encountering the viper.

The training sessions include Snake Bite Safety Training, Jan. 25 and Fer-de-Lance Handling Training for Forestry Officers, Jan 26 - 29.

Additionally, residents from Dennery, Millet, Anse La Raye and surrounding communities are invited to attend the following community meetings held in their districts to learn about the Fer-de-Lance and how to protect themselves and their families: Dennery, Chateau Heritage bypass road, Jan. 27 at 4 p.m.; Millet, Tete Chemin Community Centre, Jan. 28 at 4 p.m.