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Kiwi conservationist bitten by fer-de-lance in Costa Rica

December 29, 2020

Kiwi conservationist Pete Bethune was rescued by coworkers and Costa Rican authorities after being bitten by a fer-de-lance in Golfito on Saturday.

The New Zealander, founder of the environmental organization Earthrace Conservation, was on a conservation mission in Puerto Encanto when the incident occurred.

“When he hit me, … I (turned) around and here he is backing up. I knew straight away it was a fer-de-lance, and I knew I was in trouble,” Bethune told NewstalkZB.

The 55-year-old and his team navigated waterfalls and other difficult terrain as they rushed out of the jungle. Near the shore, they were met by the Costa Rican Coast Guard and Red Cross, who gave him first aid and carried him on their shoulders to a boat.

Bethune was transported via boat and ambulance to a Southern Zone hospital, where he is receiving treatment.

According to The New Zealand Herald, Bethune remains in serious conditions and may require surgery if his condition does not improve.

The fer-de-lance, known locally a terciopelo, is a highly venomous pit viper. Antivenom exists, though as we’ve written in the past, Costa Rica provides little data on the outcomes of non-lethal venomous snake bites.

Through Earthrace, Bethune works on various conservation missions around the world. The organization has a campaign in Costa Rica that supports local authorities with technology to stop illegal activities and monitor protected wildlife areas.

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