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Python Hunter Donna Kalil at Everglades Holiday Park Airboat Tours

 Python Hunter Donna Kalil

Imagine spending your nights hunting South Florida for an invasive species trying to take over the Everglades. That’s exactly what Donna Kalil does for a living, and she’s not stopping any time soon. In an effort to maintain the Everglades, Kalil works as a Python Elimination Specialist for the South Florida Water Management District, hunting pythons by night.

Pythons are an invasive species that show no mercy when it comes to taking over the vast land covering all of South Florida. Kalil hunts several days a week and has notched hundreds of snakes on her journeys. Backed by a team of researchers, Kalil is on track to helping create high-tech options for python hunters to seek out the snakes and rid them one by one more safely and efficiently. What an Everglades excursion!

Kalil typically roams around regions in the Everglades that are known to be nesting areas for pythons, traveling miles upon miles night after night. She usually brings a team of volunteers with her for assistance.

Researchers from UCF, New Smyrna-based Extended Reality System, and a Kissimmee-based team from a company called imec decided to go on a trek with Kalil in search of the slithery species. In the past, Kalil has relied on her knowledge of the land, tracking down the snakes and getting them stuck in the muck. Her new search mates brought cameras on their journey that operate on wavelengths that are invisible to the human eye in order to try and make the search easier. This camera device is mounted on a vehicle while the team cruises through the Everglades, keeping a close eye on a monitor to reveal a snake in the brush.

While the team left the search empty-handed, the solution to integrate new technology is a step in the right direction for Kalil and other python hunters alike.

While scientists have tried implementing ways to stop the species from reproducing, nothing is as successful as human hunters when it comes to eradicating this species of snake. The only thing that can make the hunt more successful is with greater technological advancements.

Pythons have been a problem in the Everglades for decades, and these snakes have the potential to slither beyond the swamp and make an impact on the other ecosystems across Florida. We thank Donna Kalil for making a stand and doing all that she can to protect and maintain the Everglades.

Everglades Holiday Park is a place for Everglades airboat tours and animal encounters – not invasive pythons. At our national park, we’re dedicated to working with government officials to ensure that the Florida Everglades protection efforts are properly set in place. We agree that this is a step in the right direction in efforts to care for the unique environment the Everglades offers.


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