KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13 2019: It was to be a routine late Saturday morning walk or run in Taman Lembah Bukit Kiara about three weeks ago for Norhazlenda Mohd Nor.
But the creepy crawling creature that fell from a tree right to the ground near her wouldn’t let her have it that way.
The 32 year-old was at the entrance of the park and was just about to start her walk, run or whatever it would or could have been, when she saw a little commotion just a few metres from her.
Some men were poking a stick up a tree. As she looked up, she saw that their target was a snake they were trying to bring down.
It eventually fell with some broken branches. She watched as the men were attempting, with much difficulty, to catch the reptile.
Other people – men and women – would have certainly steered clear of the slithering creature. This was unsurprisingly and predictably the situation there.
Well, Leenda, as family and friends call her, was certainly not “other people.”
“I stood there. Watched them trying to catch the snake. They did not seem to be doing a good job. I was thinking — are you or are you not going to catch the poor snake? Come on. Do it quick-lah,” she said, good-humouredly, in an interview with The Mole at Quartet in Taman Tun Dr Ismail today.
Moreover, Leenda was also concerned because she could see around the park that there were children who would definitely be frightened by the sight of a slithering snake.
So, this fitness aficionado decided to do what no other would have the nerve to do.
She dropped her bottle of mineral water and proceeded to pick up the python by its tail – the right part of the tail, she hastened to point out – and held it at the right height so as to prevent it from thrusting forward and wrapping itself around her.
The rest you could see in a video (from which the above screenshot was taken) of her amazing snake-handling skill, prowess or whatever you would love to name it.
Long story short — not the male “snake catchers” that finished the job of putting the snake in a bag but Leenda in her seeming professional and gentle handling.
When the video of Leenda and the snake was posted in social media, expressions of awe and admiration of what many described as a “brave” act dominated the thread. You could hear jaws dropping.
Many asked: “Who is she?”
And then – is she a professional snake handler, a zoologist, a perhilitan officer, this or that because, let’s face it, this was no ordinary thing to do and that makes her — well, not someone ordinary.
She certainly seemed to have handled the creature with daring ease.
When The Mole contacted her after tracking her down, we asked her about that lively Saturday episode in the park.
Leenda responded, attempting to play down her role : “I just did what was needed at that time.”
In fact, she did not know that the episode was being recorded. She only knew that a friend who was with her at the park took some photos.
Her attempt to downplay her snake-handling skill could not deter this writer from wanting to know more.
You cannot see her face in the video in which she appears taller and somewhat older than 32. In the flesh, she is petite, leaner and looks much younger.
First question – “have you done this before?”
Not really, she said. But she has held a snake belonging to a snake handler in a night market in in Machang, Kelantan, way back in 2007. That was her first physical contact with the reptile.
No qualms. No fear. Nothing to it.
“Snakes are such gentle creatures. When a snake moves on your arm, for instance, you can feel how gentle it is. And no, snakes are not cold and slimy,” Leenda said.
So, how did she learn to handle snakes?
“Animal Planet,” she replied unhesitantly. What a delightful surprise.
So, is Animal Planet your guru, we asked.
“Yes. That is my guru. I have learnt so much from that programme,” she enthused.
Undoubtedly, the programme has been a valuable education for Leenda about the planet of animals. And what she had learnt, she had applied in that situation in the park.
But over and above that education, this young lady has much love and respect for animals.
She has had close encounters with snakes many times in her lifetime, especially around her home in Pasir Mas in Kelantan.
“I would see a snake near my car and I would let it be, give it time to make its way out. Once I saw a snake slithering around near our house, I gently shooed it to some place away from my neighbours’ homes,” she recalled.
Certainly, most people would run a mile at the sight of a snake. Perhaps that is the best thing to do but here’s Leenda’s advice to regular folks like us: Just don’t frighten off the snake.
Certainly an animal activist in her own little way, Leenda holds to a simple maxim of “be kind to animals, even to a scorpion or a centipede that you may find creeping and crawling in your home.’
“Don’t kill it… find a way of getting rid of it without killing it,” she enthused.
And a tip for us ordinary folks — rid yourselves of that fear of snakes. Once you no longer are fearful, you will be ready to hold one and find how gentle it is. (Non-poisonous ones, of course.)
Penang-born Leenda enjoys the outdoors and always finds time to go hiking up hills and trekking in the jungle besides carrying out voluntary charity work especially with Orang Asli children.
“You learn valuable lessons in your interaction with the Orang Asli community. I appreciate what I have come to know in my voluntary work with them,” she said.
Leenda had just recently graduated with a Masters in Occupational Health and Safety and Health Administration from Universiti Utara Malaysia.
She is a graduate of accounting from UiTM, Machang in Kelantan and has a Bachelors in Business Administration (Marketing) from UiTM, Dungun in Terengganu.
Smart, strong and brave, we say.
Hid your cape, somewhere, Leenda?
(*The snake was later taken to a forest somewhere. and released.)