There’s more to a holistic snake rescue than just catching and bagging a snake. Here’s a story of a rescue done in Jalpaiguri by Manas Bandhu Majumdar which sets a great example when dealing with rescue calls of non-venomous snakes.
It was 10 am, on a cloudy day in June 2017, when Manas Bandhu Majumdar, the ISRN member from West Bengal, got a call about a “big” snake trapped in the bedroom of a house and had just bitten an 11 year old girl. The girl had entered the room to get some books and didn’t realise the snake was present, till she suddenly felt a sharp pain in her left foot. Though she wasn’t showing any signs of envenomation, there was a little bleeding and pain from the site, which can be expected after any bite. Manas immediately left for the site, with his fellow rescuer Sankha, and though from the description given on the phone he was fairly certain he was about to rescue a rat snake (Ptyas mucosa), given that the bite involved a child he didn’t want to take a chance, since there was always a chance that it could be a venomous snake, specifically a Bungarus sindarus walli, commonly known as the Wall’s Sind krait. The family had already supported her leg with a pressure bandage and Manas suggested that they immediately rush her to the District hospital which was just 10 minutes away.
As soon as Manas and Sankha laid their eyes on the snake they breathed a heavy sigh of relief- it was indeed a rat snake. They swiftly bagged the 6-footer and asked the residents to call the family members who had taken the girl to the hospital. They spoke to them and then the doctors attending to the patient that the snake was non-venomous and that there was absolutely no reason to panic.
Then their real work started.
Catching and bagging a snake is only part of a snake rescuer’s job. The real work begins when you have to sensitise the people around you about the snake, why it was there and why it is important to release it within a certain distance, especially if it’s a non-venomous snake like this one. Quite understandably, people don’t want snakes in or near their house. But especially since in this case even after a bite, nothing had happened to the girl convincing them that the snake was harmless became even easier. The rat snake was released right in the backyard of the home in the presence of all the family members!
Manas and Sankha then visited the hospital to meet the girl and reassure the family. They again did an impromptu awareness session for the doctors and nurses on non-venomous snakes, who by now have become quite familiar with Manas and his team courtesy the several sensitisation and identification sessions he’s taken with them! After keeping her under observation till the evening, the doctors gave the 11-year old a clean bill of health and released her.
Timely intervention and patience not only helped the girl and the snake, but also created a new understanding for an entire family on the importance of co-existing harmoniously with nature.
Now THIS is an ideal rescue :)
Every year over 45000 people die in India from snake bites and countless snakes are killed, making human-snake conflict the largest man-animal conflicts in the country. While there are a large number of people
I must have been around seven years old when I saw my first wild cobra. I was walking with my grandfather around our farm and we saw a cobra, a little over four feet, cross the path ahead of us. When it spotted us, it raised its hood briefly and then continued .
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