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Unbelievable? Believe it!

Jun 18, 2010   //   by admin   //   Featured  //  No Comments

It was the fateful friday that most of the country had been waiting for… The Finance Minister was reading out the Countrys Budget for the year 2010-2011. It was built up to be one of the most important budgets ever… I for one was half asleep listening to it. The ringing of my phone woke me up. The manager of a star… hotel was at the other end of it. The next few words he said shocked me to my very core…

He said “Three snake catchers from chennai have come to our campus and caught 55 snakes in two hours. Can you please help us in releasing them?” My mind was racing. 55 snakes caught in 2 hours! Who were these guys and how the hell did they manage this amazing feat were my first thoughts. I told the manager of the hotel that I would visit their hotel immediately, assess the situation and take a call accordingly. I immediately called Jai and said “3 people have caught 55 snakes in 2 hours, we need to go and check whats going on. Can you please join me?”. Judging by the way Jai reacted, I am pretty sure he checked his calender to see if it was April 1st. Once he was sure it wasnt, we both made our way to the hotel. On reaching the place, we met these three guys who had caught these 55 snakes. By the time we went there(which was 20 mins after we got the call) the number had risen to 65.

These 3 guys were villagers from Tamil Nadu and knew only tamil and telgu. So Jai and I began questioning them about the way they go about catching snakes. The leader amongst them said that they scan the entire area to look for rat burrows and other similar places where snakes might generally hide.

Then they use a “pungi”(a musical instrument) to play a particular note near such areas and the snakes pop out immediately and he catches them. We didnt believe this cause snakes dont have ears. Before we could tell him this, he himself told us that snakes dont have ears and they cant hear but his pungi produces a low frequency vibration that we cant hear but snakes can pick up and they come out following that vibration. We asked the hotel manager and other staff who were with him when he was catching snakes and even they said that he just stands in a place, plays the pungi and the snakes come in front of him! At this point Jai and I were a little confused as to what was going on here. We got into discussions with the hotel staff trying to convince them about the ill effects of relocating 65 snakes from one area to another and how it causes a major ecological imbalance.

Our aim was to convince the hotel staff that snakes are as much a part of our ecosystem as we are. The hotel staff went into an internal discussion to come to a decision and meanwhile we were keen to see these 65 snakes and count them ourselves. So we moved those 3 guys and a few bags they had to a enclosed location so we could count the snakes. By the time we finished counting all the snakes they had, the final tally was just 18! Then we started questioning them further and they revealed the whole truth: These 18 snakes were caught from Madurai and other locations in TN long long ago. These guys hide the snake in a gunny bag kinda thing and put the bag on their shoulder and go around a place playing the pungi. At one point he bends down and the snake falls out of the bag. He picks up the snake and shows it as a snake caught then and there. The same act he had repeated 65 times in the entire hotel campus and convinced them that he had caught 65 snakes. Worst part was that he had done the same in all the branches of the same hotel across India.

All the snakes were severely de-hydrated and the venomous snakes were either entirely or partly defanged. We exposed to hotel management to the scam they have been subjected to. We called the authorities and had those 3 guys arrested on charges of violating the Wildlife Protection act 1972 and Cheating. The snakes are currently under rehab and will be released once they are better. This case just goes to show that the general public is largely un aware of wildlife and they get scammed so easily by crooks pretending to “remove” snakes from our neighborhood. Snakes are a very integral part of our ecosystem and we need to learn to live with them whilst giving them enough space. If they enter your house accidently, give Vanamitra a call to just rescue and move the snake to a suitable site closeby. Dont fall prey to anyone who says they can get rid of snakes once and for all.

Jun 18, 2010   //   by admin   //   Featured  //  2 Comments

I got a snake rescue call in the evening from a place in vijaynagar about a snake in a truck. I reached the place and saw about a 100 people staring at a truck like never before. That was quite a sight to watch! :-)

The snake, a spectacled cobra had lodged himself between the drivers cabin in the front and the pick up compartment at the back. He was right in the middle of the engine, missing the rotating radiator fan(yes the truck engine was still on) by just a couple of centimeters. I requested the engine to be turned off. The 2 major challenges I faced were  the number of wires in that place which didnt give me enough room to pull him out and the fact that the entire engine was still hot which meant that he could easily burn himself when I would try to pick him up. The truck drivers very co-operative and with their help, I raised the front cabin of the truck away from the engine which gave me a much better view of the cobra and a little more room.
The driver took out a piece of paper and drew a rough figure of the engine and the entire front half of the truck and told me which areas in the truck are likely to be cool. The challenge now was to kinda funnel the snake just within the cooler areas. With the help of a few wodden planks and lots of gunny bags we were able to cordon off the hotter areas of the engine. Now I began to pick up the cobra. All hell broke loose at this point as he started travelling all over the front cabin and engine. He found small little crevices and corners where he could escape or lodge himself out of reach of my hand or my hook. It was almost as though this snake had assembled the vehicle itself and knew everything about it! The drivers at this point again kicked in with their expertise and told me all the “routes” of sorts the snake could travel in within the given space. Again None of those routes were accessible by my hook or hand. At this point I got a feeling that the snake was playing a cat and mouse game on its own rules with us. So the drivers and myself started dismantling the entire front cabin little by little and by the end of it we were left with nothing but only the engine of the truck and this fellow was still lodged somewhere within that. Reluctantly the drivers just about dismantled a few parts of the engine and by that time I think the cobra was pretty bored of playing hide and seek too so he just came right out and promptly spread his hood and stood facing us as though to say “ok i’m right here!”
The result of the entire ordeal was a very greasy snake, an even greasier me and a thorough working knowledge of the truck engine. I released the cobra nearby close to a watering hole where I hope he has taken a nice bath by now to wash off the dirt.

Not so “Net”-Savvy!

Jun 17, 2010   //   by admin   //   Featured  //  No Comments

Indian Python - Rescued From Kerala over a Phone call

We got a distress call from a concerned person in Kerala about a huge Indian Rock Python that was stuck in a fishing net for 4 days. The person who called us wanted to rescue the snake but was too scared to approach it.

Immediately Suresh gave instructions over the phone to the caller as to how the snake needs to be handled. Suresh gave him enough courage and appropriate information for him to rescue this fellow from the net successfully. As soon as he was freed from the net, the python immediately took off into the safety of the jungle around.

Nice to know that there are people in every corner of the country who care enough for wildlife to overcome their life long fear and do what needs to be done for the safety of an animal.