Update on Tel Hicks founding member of the IHS

Tell Hicks paralysed after fall accident Renowned herpetologist and artist, Tell Hicks, has suffered a serious neck injury following a fall at his home, leaving Tell with significant paralysis.

Shortly after the incident Tell’s wife, Eileen, posted a message on social media: “This has to be the worst post I have to make. Tell had a fall, banged his head and has broken his neck. He is completely paralysed. On advice from the spinal unit they are waiting until Friday to allow the swelling to settle before operating to stabilise his neck. If he comes through the operation he will be transferred to the Spinal injuries unit in Salisbury to start a very long road to rehabilitation. The prognosis at the moment is he will never walk again and may not get any movement back at all. With all his other ailments he is at risk of having a heart attack or stroke at any time. If this happens he has asked not to be resuscitated. I can’t tell you how heart-breaking this is for me and my family. We are trying to be upbeat for him, although in a lot of pain he is fully conscious and is aware how bad this is. Please share with anyone who knows Tell, and I will try to keep everyone up to date with progress.”

Since then the option of surgery has been ruled out as the procedure is too risky and would likely make Tell’s condition worse without any increased movement or life expectancy. However, the latest update shows that Tell’s condition is stable and he is breathing easier. “He is stable and succeeding in raising his arms a few inches from the bed. Although very painful he is determined to try to get some movement back in his upper body. He is still very positive and is talking about dictating a book to accompany his paintings. He is stable enough to be moved out of HDU on to a ward while he waits for a place at the spinal unit. He has special glasses which enable him to watch TV (or his feet) while lying flat. Our daughter-in-law Zoe Hicks spent hours collating all the good will messages he has received and we have been reading them to him.”

We shall keep you updated as the situation develops. In the meantime a Go Fund Me page has been set up to donate towards Tell’s care. You can donate here: www.gofundme.com/fundraiser-in-support-of-tell-hicks

STOP PRESS – Tell now has a degree of movement in his hands and the surgeons have decided surgery is now possible and likely to bring a positive result. As of writing he is waiting for surgery and it is imminent any day.

More sad news

It seems the reptile keeping hobby is being hit with more than its fair share of bad news. Coming straight after the deaths of John Pickett and Russ Case, we hear of the deaths of herpetologists Frank Schofield and Bill Branch. Known for his passion for pythons, boas and venomous species, Frank Schofield was one of the earliest captive-breeding pioneers, being the first to breed Calibar Pythons/Boas (Calabaria reinhardtii) and Mexican Burrowing Pythons (Loxocemus bicolor). Frank was 83 years old when he died. Bill Branch was born in London but best known for his African herpetological achievements which included naming numerous new species of reptiles and amphibians during his career with the Port Elizabeth Museum. A thorough, widely-read and most competent herpetologist, he authored a large number of major innovative and revisionary papers in several herpetological fields, publishing his first herp paper over 40 years ago. Most will be familiar with Bill’s iconic book, The Field Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa – a mighty title without comparison which is illustrated by Bill’s own superb photography. Bill was diagnosed with motor neurone disease some time ago. The world of herpetology will certainly miss these ground-breaking and well-loved specialists.

Hurricane Michael

After the hurricane passed Florida there was lots of devastation in the Florida Pan Handle. Our good friends Gourment Rodent started a collection of needed everyday items such as toiletries, food, batteries etc after the owners family and friends were affected. We decided to try and help, ands even with the poor UK media coverage of the plight of so many people we managed to collect over £100 to send across to help those in need. Thanks to those that donated.

New rules for CITES

Anyone selling CITES Annexe A species need to be aware of recent legislative changes to the Control of Trade in Endangered Species Act (COTES). The major change for reptile traders and keepers affects the advertisement of Annexe A animals. Sellers MUST list the permit numbers (Article 10 Certificate No.) in the advertisement when advertising Annex A species, such as Hermann’s Tortoises, Greek Tortoises and Dumeril’s Boas.

Reptile n Chill podcast

REPTA’s Chairman Chris Newman was interviewed as part of the Reptile n Chill podcast series, discussing the history of REPTA and the organisation’s work to advise politicians in the UK and EU parliaments. REPTA is the trade equivalent of the FBH, and is the less public part of the work Chris undertakes. Chris also answered some probing questions about his work to represent and protect the reptile trade.

The show is well worth a listen and does a great job of outlining REPTA’s work and how the organisation is run – warts and all. During the show Chris freely admits that REPTA is an ‘old boys’ network’ of individuals of a certain age, largely because no fresh young blood has come through to replace them.
He also discusses how REPTA was started in 2004 by Chris mortgaging his own home to fund his work to challenge the issues being proposed in the Animal Welfare Act. The biggest news was the proposed plan to transform REPTA into a membership organisation. This would enable its members to benefit from the Primary Authority Scheme which protects retailers from unjust licensing conditions.

We’ll update you with more news about the REPTA membership scheme when we have it available but in the meantime, Reptile n Chill’s interview with Chris is still available online. You can find it by liking the Reptile n Chill Facebook page and scrolling down their feed to Chris’ interview on the 24th September. There is another interview with Chris planned for some time in the near future.

EU Kingsnake ban?

A submission to the EU commission has been written on behalf of REPTA regarding the proposal to ban kingsnakes across the whole of Europe.

The proposal follows the problems faced in Gran Canaria where Albino Californian Kingsnakes have become invasive, thereby prompting calls to ban this popular pet species throughout Europe. REPTA’s submission highlights some important considerations. Gran Canaria’s ecosystem is particularly accommodating to the invasive kingsnakes, being an island where the snakes have no predators but a plentiful supply of native prey, along with an ideally suited climate. These conditions are not present across the vast majority of Europe, making the risk of kingsnakes becoming invasive elsewhere highly unlikely.
Unfortunately the EU’s IAS legislation offers no middle ground in these circumstances – a species is either banned or it isn’t and no regional variations of the legislation can be accommodated. If the legislation is passed it will affect all Lampropeltis getula species and subspecies, prohibiting their sale, breeding and transfer with a view to the species eventually dying out in captivity. How effective this ban would be is also a consideration, given the numbers of kingsnakes being kept across the continent. At present there is no indication of which way the decision will go. We’ll keep you posted.

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