In Mouth Piece

The Rescue Paradox by Kedar Bhide

Recently I was in discussion with a friend about snake rescue and we just decided to pen down a list of snake friends in our knowledge that have died due to snakebites. In 30 minutes we could come up with 29 names, there may be additions to this list if we start researching on a serious note. Also, we’ve not included those who’d lost their limbs or had disfigured them due to envenomation. And this we are talking only about western and central Maharashtra. When you look at this list it’s very disturbing.

rescueparadox

What happened? Mistakes? Carelessness? Accidents? We do not know and I don’t want to go into the details of that. But in the end there is loss of life, there are broken families and worst is the impact on snakes, as after every such case the conservation of snakes is negatively impacted.

Deaths of snake friends in our knowledge due to snake bite –

 

1 Nandu Dixit Krait Pune
2 Ravi Korphate Cobra Pune
3 Usmad Madari Cobra Pune
4 Bashir Khan Cobra Nagar
5 Sanjay Khandagale Krait Narayangoan
6 Tandale Krait Pune
7 Sonar Russell’s Viper Bhor
8 Madhu Nitnavare Krait Pune
9 Vishal Mormare Cobra Pune
10 Sunil Ranade Cobra Mumbai
11 Vikrant Nar Cobra Chiplun
12 Rajan Kakade Russell’s viper Deorukh
13 Shantaram Pol Cobra Pune
14 Vadbule Cobra Rahu
15 Adam Jamadar Cobra Ichalkaranji
16 Tiwari Namhe Cobra Pune
17 Amol Vayal Cobra Pune
18 Kailas Pokale Cobra Pimpalwadi
19 Rahul Kambale Cobra Neral
20 Sunil Ingawale Cobra Ichakaranji
21 Pappu Yadav Russell’s viper Morgaon
22 Pawan Upadhye Cobra Loni
23 Kishor Wadkar Cobra Pandharpur
24 Narayan Pujari Cobra Pandharpur
25 Raja Kokare Cobra Pandharpur
26 Rahul Suvarnkar Russell’s viper Latur
27 Dhanajay Cobra Jalgoan
28 Tukaram Favare Cobra Mandangad, Dapoli
29 Durvesh Goware Cobra Uran
30
31
32
  1. Many people want to become snake friends. It’s so easy, just start catching snakes, and there you become a snake friend. Is there any need to catch them? How do you do it? What precautions do you take? What you do with the snakes after they’re rescued? How many times do you handle it to show off? Nothing matters, except that if you are able to catch a snake you become a ‘snake friend’ (sarp mitra).
  2. Such an easy friendship!
  3. Please take a look at the list above, the magnitude of responsibility it carries to become a snake friend can be clearly seen.
  4. ‘Rescue’ by definition (here) means saving an animal from an adverse situation and rehabilitating it back into its natural environment. Unfortunately most ‘rescues’ do not fit this definition. In several/ most cases, the snake is just moved from one stressful situation to another, or (often) an area outside its original ‘home range’.
  5. When we talk about ‘rescue’ we really should be thinking about what’s good for the snake and not us.
  6. Do you think taking a snake from one environment where it is actively foraging/ living and dumping it into a new environment is rescue?????
  7. Do you think capturing a snake from an adverse situation and then using it for live shows for ‘education’ is rescue?????????
  8. Do you think handling, kissing snakes and showing off your images on social media is rescue??????
  9. If you answer all the above questions in positive, then, are we really doing snake RESCUE????????
  10. That’s where the shift needs to take place in our minds and we should rethink the term ‘rescue’ and use it so as to suit the welfare of the snake.
  11. Around two decades back there was a dire need to create a positive image of snakes in our community and during those days there was a lack of digital media for communication, which is available today. Therefore, during those days, showing off your snake handling images or doing live snake shows had a positive impact to create a whole line of people who started conserving snakes and making efforts to get this group of animal kingdom to a respectable level.
  12. In today’s world, our snake conservation efforts should move away from snake handling, snake shows and catching them to creating a society for co-existence, reduction of snake bites and fatalities and more focus on researching about the species.
  13. One simple SOP, which you can follow for snake rescue work, is given below. There can be an inclusion of more points depending on the situation.
  14. What I’m writing below are the ‘least’ or minimal things to follow –
  15. Identify the need for rescue  – Rescue only when unavoidable.
  16. Get acquainted with safer bagging techniques.
  17. Always work in pairs when possible.
  18. Minimize the handling of a snake; twice per snake only– once while bagging and once while releasing.  Avoid all       unnecessary handling.
  19. In case of injuries to snakes or transfers to another bag/ box, handle with care and again do it only if absolutely necessary.
  20. If the snake is fit for release, then do it without any delay (ASAP).
  21. Keep records of rescue (bagging to release) – Submit it regularly to the Forest Department.
  22. Get acquainted with First aid, and always carry a ‘SAFE SNAKES’ card which has information about the nearest hospital, relative’s number and personal details like           blood          group, past history of bites (any anti-venom   sensitivity) and if possible, contact number of some expert medical professional for guiding doctors about the latest treatment    protocol, nearest Forest Department office number & Police station’s number.
  23. To attend regular refresher’s course in identification and  rescue  techniques  (once a year – which can be     organized by inviting experts).

TO BE STRICTLY AVOIDED –

  1. Keeping live snakes in captivity  (except  for  medical treatment under notification to DCF, Wildlife Office of the respective area)
  2. Live snake shows for whatever purpose.
  3. Handling snakes when not needed.

And without showing any disrespect to those snake friends who have lost their lives (some of them were close friends) I would like to say, – if you still feel that snake handling is a glamorous thing and you will get popularity by excessive handling, showing off, not following procedures or making mistakes your name might (tragically) make it to the list above.

Written by Kedar Bhide

http://kedarbhide.com/?p=1483

PS: Kedar Bhide has shared the above details of people who he knew and died due to snakebite in Maharashtra. There are many such incidents from across India. The author has requested readers to add more names to this list of people they knew who died in similar circumstances.

8 Comments

  • Dilip Som
    Jan 22, 2016 at 09:42 pm

    Very well written article. You defined the term “Snake Rescue” very clearly – what it is and what it is not.

    We need to spread this information to everyone who might have completely wrong ideas about “Snake Rescue” and in the name of snake rescue, unknowingly doing some activities which are not right.

    You may also include the name on your list.
    Joydev Mondal, Basanti, Canning,South 24 Parganas, West Bengal. The link below has the details:
    http://www.she-india.org/the-unfortunate-death-of-joydev-mondal/

    • admin
      Jan 24, 2016 at 06:14 pm

      Dilip Som ji…It is very encouraging to receive responses from for the founding member of Juktibadi Sanstha, an NGO from West Bengal who are working in this field since the last 30-35 years.

  • Narendran. M.M
    Jan 23, 2016 at 10:09 am

    Thanks a lot for this great initiative. I have been in the field of Naturalist for the past 15 years. The word rescue is still misunderstood to most of them.I have met many guests asking me that do I rescue snake. I think only if we come with the detailed report including the casualties people will take it seriously.

    • admin
      Jan 24, 2016 at 06:17 pm

      Mr Narendran M.M – Many thanks for your suggestion. We have added a message in the bottom of the article requesting details of rescuer deaths from across India.

  • Vishal Santra
    Jan 26, 2016 at 09:38 pm

    Incredible amount of callousness still prevails when it comes to ‘rescue’ in our country. There are so many reasons which build this trait. It is a mammoth task when it comes to define what rescue means to someone who is initially inspired and almost blinded by sheer passion to save snakes. And the situation is worsened by the TV jokers wrangling snakes and shouting at the same time, ” This is a dangerous snake”. Kedar sir it will be difficult to get the message straight to the end users. We need to devise some trick or technique or regulation whatever you call it that these young guys don’t get it wrong completely. Felt so sorry for the families when I went through the list. I remember seeing that list sometime back at a restaurant in Kolkata when we met and discussed the same stuff. Every day I see so many new faces wrangling snakes. There are so many organizations around me doing the same mistake… I try my best to sit with them have long conversations and try to make them understand the basic things… I think right now that’s all we can do…

  • Anindita Debnath
    Jan 27, 2016 at 07:53 am

    Sir,

    It is a very well-written and a clear message to all of us in general. Most people are either in awe and fear of snakes, and others have hatred, disgust and kill-at-first-sight attitude towards these animals. Some others do try to “rescue” them, once again a term, which you tried to expand and define. Your message and this web-site is indeed an eye-opener to many. People who are not well acquainted to the menaces of wrong-handling of snakes, and those not aware of the extent of snake-bite death toll, should grow through such articles. The message and information should be more and more wide spread, as most around us are truly ignorant of these facts. Thank you and Ms. Priyanka Kadam for such initiative.

  • Ashok Captain
    Jan 29, 2016 at 05:26 am

    Kedar is dead right!

    Amen.

  • Dr.kailas Gaikwad
    Mar 11, 2019 at 09:28 am

    Vikram malout a snake rescuer from punjab died of a snakebite and ignoring it for initial one hour.

    A person namely va va suresh from kerala does not follow any of the safety norm and rescues king cobra n other snakes and risks his life thtt is evident in many of his videos.

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