Friends who save limbless reptiles

Friends who save limbless reptiles
Highlights

Making friends is fine. Some turn out to be fair-weather friends, while others stand out as fast friends through thick and thin.  There are also people for whom ‘friendship’ itself means the time they spend with their books, music, paintings and whatnot.

Tirupati: Making friends is fine. Some turn out to be fair-weather friends, while others stand out as fast friends through thick and thin. There are also people for whom ‘friendship’ itself means the time they spend with their books, music, paintings and whatnot.

How about a friendship that goes beyond making pets out of birds and animals? So, we have Friends of Snakes, formed by those who have a passion to treat the slithering reptiles as their inseparable friends. The NGO that they formed is going great guns.

There ‘Friends of Snakes Society’, a Hyderabad-based organisation, has around 300 members. All the members are either working professionals or students. But, they all have a common inclination to protect snakes. Their focus is on conservation of snakes. Every member should be serious in their assigned activity.

Members of the society, who gave demos in SV Zoological Park, Tirupati on Saturday and Sunday as part of the 63rd Wildlife Week, shared their experiences with this correspondent. One of the members, Kamalesh Sagar, said that their main goal was to educate people and enhance awareness about snakes, while eradicating myths and misconceptions about the reptiles. “It is necessary to save snake population. But, human beings, out of their fear and superstitions, are killing snakes,” he says.

To rescue snakes from urban areas and rehabilitate them in reserve forest areas, Rajkumar Kanuri founded the society in Hyderabad in 1995. They do their task with help from the Forest Department personnel. Kamalesh said that whenever they get a call, they go and capture the snake and rescue it. In doing so, they take all precautions.

Every member is not allowed to go as a rescuer. Only experienced members will be sent. They receive 40 to 50 calls daily on an average. But in all cases, they may not capture the snakes. Around 4,000 snakes are being recorded every year, he said. “The survival of snakes is crucial to our own existence as they help in maintaining the ecological balance by playing a key role in the food chain.

For instance, Kamalesh pointed out, if there were no snakes, the rodent population would go up by leaps and bounds, causing serious health hazards. All snakes are not poisonous. Out of 300 snakes, only three or four are poisonous. They have every right to live. People should not kill them, but make a phone call so that snakes can be taken away from their place.

The members of the society are staging 1000-plus shows every year at various places to create awareness among people and these shows yield good results. The numbers of phone calls they receive from various places have been increasing. In the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad, they are giving three demos every Sunday at a separate podium.

Every demo is a good experience and the response from the youth is good. During the 45-minute demo, they show 12 snakes like python, krait, Russell’s viper, spectacled cobra, rat snake, land-dwelling snakes, two-headed snakes etc.

Visitors at the SV Zoo Park were spell-bound on seeing the ‘friendly’ snakes and the way the members of the society handle them. Along with Kamalesh, Sandeep, Aditya Kesav and Harrison came from Hyderabad to give demos in Tirupati.

By V Pradeep Kumar

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