Hyderabad, July 30 (NSS): The Bharatiya Prani Mitra Sangh along with Sahayog organization and Friends of Snakes and other animal welfare organizations will rescue snakes from clutches of the snake charmers during Naga Panchami festival on August 4.
Speaking to mediapersons here on Saturday, the Sangh president, Mr Jasraj Shrishrimal, the secretary, Mr Mahesh Agarwal, and the treasurer, Mr Ridesh Jagirdar, appealed to the people to celebrate the festival with snake idols and pictures. They described how snakes are caught from paddy fields 60 days before the festival and kept inside slit bamboo baskets in coiled position for many days without food, water and sunlight. They said though snakes manage to survive by dissolving their body fat, they suffer from cramps, dehydration and weakness and unable even to stir by the time they are removed from the baskets a few days before festival. Later, their fangs are pulled out with pliers, venom sacks slit open or their mouths stitched up to render them incapacitated for a bite, they added.
They said the snake charmers take them around to collect money from the public and allow the devotees to feed the reptile with milk though snakes cannot digest milk and sometimes die due to irritation in the digestive track. They said there are 275 different species of snakes in India including 181 non-venomous and 94 technically venomous. About 34 of these venomous snakes do not have venom potent enough to kill a human being and by and large are considered harmless, they explained. About 20 of the rest are sea snakes that have high venom toxicity but since they live mostly in the sea, they are not a potential threat. Besides, 36 of the dangerously venomous snakes are rare, therefore human casualties from them are by far ruled out. There are only four potentially dangerous snakes that venture into human habitation and are referred to as the Big Four. They are: Indian Cobra (Naja naja), saw scaled Viper (Echis carinatus), Russels Viper (Daboia russelii) Common Crait (Bungarus caeruleus). After the festival, the snakes are either sold or skinned alive for leather.
Reminding that snakes are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, they said a helpline was established to inform them about the snake charmers. Any body find snake charmers around them can alert them through helpline numbers 9394005600, 9246175600.
Stating that they have rescued 42 snakes last year, 75 in 2009, 57 in 2008, 70 in 2007 and 104 snakes in 2006 from snake charmers, they said as per the directions of the Forest department, the snakes were given medical treatment and released into their natural habitat. They said they had rescued over 2,500 snakes in the last five years from various places and presently the services were available in Hyderabad and suburbs. They are also planning to start the service in Kakinada, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam. (NSS)