In Mouth Piece
Loss of life can never be compensated!
Loss of life can never be compensated. The latest individual to fall victim to a venomous snake bite is Chirag Roy, a promising field biologist from West Bengal. Chirag was a well-informed budding conservationist and loved the wild. He had seen seniors in the field being bitten, a few had even died. And yet when one is a handler, the confidence of handling snakes’ day in and day out can make one complacent in the matter of taking necessary precautions.
Chirag was in a resort property in Tadoba (near Nagpur, Maharashtra). He was asked to relocate a cobra. I’m still unclear how he got bitten and what was the cause of death in this case. We will know for sure in the coming days. Chirag was 29 and married last year. He didn’t have any siblings.
While this incident has deeply saddened me, any incident, however heartbreaking, is an opportunity to learn from the mistakes and ensure that there are no repeat cases. A few points that need immediate attention are:
For Forest Department of every state
- Should have a minimum 50 vial stock of lyophilized (powder form) ASV to ensure safety of their ground staff and folks living in the buffer zones and periphery of the forest.
- Should have an experienced snake handler and 3 sets of snake handling equipment.
- Should be affiliated to some NGO for capacity building and workshop to understand the snakes in their region and how to handle a man-animal conflict.
- Should have the information on the health centers / hospitals closest to their location and names & numbers of doctors they can immediately call in case of emergency.
- Should monitor hotels in the buffer zones and ensure they follow snakebite first-aid protocol.
For hotels especially resorts in the buffer zones and the periphery of reserve forests
- A downloadable chart of the snakebite first aid protocol should be displayed. Snakebite first-aid management should also be included in the staff training. Given below is a link to the protocol. Please scroll down to locate the downloadable versions in local languages like Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Kannada and Malayalam. http://www.she-india.org/snakebite-first-aid/
- Every hotel or commercial place of stay should have 20 vials of Lyophilized (powder form) ASV as a part of their first aid kit. This can be provided to the nearest health care center doctor to administer in case of a venomous snakebite. (Please note: ASV cannot be induced by a non-medico).
- The staff should know to identify the medically significant (venomous) snakes found in their region.
- Every commercial establishment should have a set of snake handling equipment.
- They should have the information on the health centers / hospitals closest to their location and names & numbers of doctors they can immediately call in case of emergency.
For Snake rescuers / Field Biologists / Herpers / Trekkers / Nature Enthusiasts
- Always move around in pairs.
- Carry snake handling equipment if you are going to handle / relocate a snake in a conflict situation.
- Carry 10 vials of lyophilized (powder form) ASV in your first-aid kit.
- Carry a card with your basic details like: a) Full Name, address and contact details. b) Who to contact in an emergency situation (name & number). c) Blood group. d) Details of any allergic reaction you may have to food, medicines or any other substance.e) Details of Snakebite expert doctor (name & contact number for the ground doctor to seek guidance in a venomous snake bite situation)
Today, before Chirag’s mortal remains turn into ashes, let us take an oath to follow protocol and ensure no one dies of snakebites. To follow our dream with responsibility should be the mantra!
Written by Priyanka Kadam