Fer-de-lance snake, Photo credit: pariasprings.typepad.com.
Fer-de-lance snake, Photo credit: pariasprings.typepad.com.

Did you know that in their quest for survival the Maroons in St. Lucia encountered some deadly natural enemies?

The St. Lucian fer-de-lance also called se-pen in Creole (Bothrops caribbaeus) and the scorpion also called eskoupion in Creole were known to deliver fatal bites to the maroons.

About 25 people died every year from the bite of the fer-de-lance while deaths from scorpion stings were estimated at two per year.

While some maroons developed a cure for snake bites, they also wore charms (cham bwa) to prevent being bitten in the first place. The fer-de-lance/se-pen could be found from Roseau to Canaries on the west coast and from Marquis to Micoud on the east coast.

During the 19th and early 20th century, government mounted vigorous campaigns against these venomous creatures. Between 1870 and 1874 alone, 60,784 fer-de-lance were killed. Strangely, after establishing a reward of two shillings and six pence for every five heads of fer-de-lance in 1870, St. Lucia’s legislators did away with this encouragement to the peasants in 1874.

Source: A History of St. Lucia by Harmsen, Ellis & Devaux – 2012.

This feature runs every Tuesday and Thursday. It is written by daughter of the soil Anselma Aimable, a former agricultural officer and former correspondent for Caribbean Net News, who has a deep interest in local culture and history. Send ideas and tips to [email protected]


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  1. No wonder the deveauxs referring to us as Maroons...what you think the chastanets will call us?


  2. We MUST cease and desist using the language of our slave masters. We must condemn those referring to those brave and courageous Saint Lucians who rejected their servile and abominable condition calling them derogatorily, maroons.

    Unlike some, they demonstrated that they had a real spine. This is very much unlike the majority supine lot we have become today, and populating our parliament and other places of high office.

    The whites plantation owners brought in other vermin crawling on their belies instead of two their usual two legs, to control and contain the aspirations of our exemplary freedom seekers, in search of their human integrity, dignity, and natural right to independence.

    Today, we worship like gods, those who only gave us a British and Colonial Office rejection slip, the so-called the independence constitution. We, in awe kneel, bow, and pray saying 'I'm not worthy'. The victims of the abominable atrocities meted out to them, in addition to snake bites are ignored during so-called independence celebration time. We have no damn respect.

    We have our priorities inverted. We needed an emancipation statue saying 'Never Again'. Look what we erected instead. Check out the make-up of those behind that?


    • 4 people who disliked da comment are either slave owners or they enjoy being a slave


    • Wow! These people better than us, understood freedom and independence. Together those were always naturally theirs. Independence was NOT handed over to them. They decided for themselves; they took it.


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