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There is an African plain, there are trees, grasses, some seasonal rivers/lakes, and snakes.

Upon the plain lives a society of tribesmen (think along the lines of the Maasai Mara people)

enter image description here This image used with permission: Source (Alamy)

These tribes love life, but hate snakes - they are the embodiment of the evil spirits, they cannot be eaten, they also cannot be killed (life is more treasured than evil is hated).

Of course, there's plenty of snakes around.

So the question (obviously) is how can the tribesmen get the snakes off the plain?

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    $\begingroup$ You mean other than picking them up, putting them in a basket and turn them into handbags later? Well. Go and breed some predators that do not have the same religious problems with turning them into lunch. You can still turn the leftovers into handbags afterwards. $\endgroup$ – Burki Feb 28 '17 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ Came here specifically to edit your poor spelling, was not disappointed. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Feb 28 '17 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Burki evil, living baskets made of snakes? $\endgroup$ – Snow Feb 28 '17 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ Does St. Patrick do requests? $\endgroup$ – nzaman Feb 28 '17 at 15:35
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    $\begingroup$ "How to remove snakes from a plain"... hmmm... have you considered asking Samuel L. Jackson for help? I hear he's had enough of these monkey-flying snakes on this monday-friday plain. $\endgroup$ – Z.Schroeder Feb 28 '17 at 15:44
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Just ask Moses

From Artapansus of Alexandria in his History of the Jews:

Jealousy of Moses' excellent qualities induced Chenephres to send him with unskilled troops on a military expedition to Ethiopia, where he won great victories. After having built the city of Hermopolis, he taught the people the value of the ibis as a protection against the serpents, making the bird the sacred guardian spirit of the city...

Behold, your savior

enter image description here

Your people worship the Ibis

Not only are Sacred Ibis' great for keeping around and eating snakes, they are also native to the same plains that the Masai Mara live on, and they are easy to worship too!

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ @Mikey There is no room for your so-called 'facts' here. Bow before the almighty Ibis-God, without whose grace, a serpent would be surely sinking its fangs into your heels right now! Bow! $\endgroup$ – kingledion Feb 28 '17 at 21:06
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    $\begingroup$ well, it got a +1 anyway. What about a mongoose? $\endgroup$ – Mikey Feb 28 '17 at 21:40
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    $\begingroup$ I have a strong desire to post "a song about birds" from youtube here, but it's rather NSFW so I won't... $\endgroup$ – Erik Feb 28 '17 at 22:21
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    $\begingroup$ @sgroves it properly recognizes our saviors, the sacred ibis. Hail. $\endgroup$ – Delioth Feb 28 '17 at 22:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Mikey, will this do $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Mar 1 '17 at 13:52
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Why do you have snakes on the plain in the first place? Rodents! So you need to find a way to control the rodent populations. If the snakes have nothing to eat, they won't hang about in large numbers.

Introduce species that will eliminate the rodents and the snakes won't have prey. This is why Bast was an Egyptian Goddess. She represented cats, which kept critters out of the grain cribs. Also weasels and ferrets and mongoose might help. The mongoose will also eat the snakes as well. Then the whole killing snakes becomes a circle of life thing.

Mammals are going to have an advantage in that they are not as affected by cold.

In a culture like you describe, though, I would think the snake might at least be respected because it does help control the rodent population without endangering the food supply. So Sam L Jackson may not be necessary after all.

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    $\begingroup$ Introduce a bunch of owls a la Futurama. $\endgroup$ – mbomb007 Feb 28 '17 at 20:37
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    $\begingroup$ That wouldn't be a bad idea. Plenty of raptor birds eat snakes, in addition to eating what the snakes are there to eat, rodents $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Feb 28 '17 at 20:44
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    $\begingroup$ @mbomb007 - well, I was about to point out that owls roost in trees (which they do) and trees seem kinda scarce, but then I remembered that the Burrowing Owl nests in, well, burrows. Or perhaps you could invent a Burroing Owl which nests on the backs of plains donkeys. Or the completely unknown Excavating Owl which is a well-known tool-using animal, preferring backhoes, bulldozers, front-end loaders, and the like. Or the HIGHLY dangerous Glow-In-The-Dark Ground Zero Owl, known for its use of practical physics when digging a new nest-hole. $\endgroup$ – Bob Jarvis Feb 28 '17 at 22:31
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    $\begingroup$ Next question, how to get rid of your owl infestation. $\endgroup$ – Toby Mar 1 '17 at 12:48
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    $\begingroup$ You know what else eats rodents? Ibis. They're an all in one solution! $\endgroup$ – kingledion Mar 1 '17 at 23:09
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Kookaburra roams through the plains with glee, eating all the snakes with a grin is he, laugh, Kookaburra laugh, Kookaburra full your stomach must be.

The humble Kookaburra! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kookaburra A less well known Australian bird who loves to eat snakes and small rodents (solves two suspected problems here!!)

My only problem would be that they would usually nest in a tree, so if there are no suitable trees around, we may have to make a hybrid kingfisher-kookaburra breed which would use the habitat of the kingfisher which is small holes in sand-mounds.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hmm - I've just noticed that the snakes cannot be killed. Does being eaten by another animal count? $\endgroup$ – Jake Harry Mar 1 '17 at 1:14
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that's fine, it's a Circle of Life thing. Animals can't be chastised for not respecting religion. $\endgroup$ – Snow Mar 1 '17 at 7:17
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    $\begingroup$ There goes the local ecology. If a plain supports that many snakes, then getting rid of them will unleash the Mother and Father of vermin plagues. Don't say you weren't warned. $\endgroup$ – a4android Mar 1 '17 at 10:38
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    $\begingroup$ Or domesticate/breed/release secretary birds which are native to Africa. The problem is when there are only a few snakes left in an area, the birds will run out of food or turn to other prey species, so you'll never eliminate the snakes completely. An army of semi-domesticated metre-high birds would be cool though. $\endgroup$ – Chris H Mar 1 '17 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ @kingledion, no, they're not closely related. The secretary bird (raptor) is considerably taller than even a large species of ibis (wader). It's like an eagle on stilts, with a beak to match, and stalks impressively rather than flying. $\endgroup$ – Chris H Mar 2 '17 at 6:51
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Do what any human does and kill them

Look at human history, you can likely easily name 5 animals off the top of your head that humanity has hunted to extinction. Unless the animals mass breeds like insects, early man has always had dominion over animal life.

If these people truly hated and despised the snakes, to the point that they saw it their religious duty to god to kill them, the snakes wouldn't stand a chance. Humans always win.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, but we don't really want to kill the snakes. It's a sin. And the tribesmen don't really want to meet those snakes in the afterlife. $\endgroup$ – Snow Feb 28 '17 at 15:56
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    $\begingroup$ That didn't stop the giraffe from answering.... $\endgroup$ – Snow Feb 28 '17 at 16:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Pᴇᴛᴇ giraffes are myths $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Feb 28 '17 at 16:32
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    $\begingroup$ Why can't they practice catch and release? with a forked stick and a basket snake catching isn't much harder than snake killing, if you have the free time to play with things instead of eating them. $\endgroup$ – user25818 Feb 28 '17 at 18:08
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    $\begingroup$ That would work. Catch the snakes and export them to places where owning a poisonous serpent is KEWL! You get rid of your snake problem AND you wipe out an entire generation of foreign kids who are way too much into The Latest Thing. Hmmm...a snake with every cell phone..? ****blink-blink**** NAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!! $\endgroup$ – Bob Jarvis Feb 28 '17 at 22:35

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