THE REPTILE RESCUE SQUAD-COBRA
The phone rang, it was Abhinav Chawla Uncle to speak to Dad! But Dad was out walking the dog! Abhinav Uncle told me that there was a cobra in his room. When Dad got back, I once again pleaded to come along reminding him of how I had helped him rescue the Russell's
Reluctantly he agreed but ONLY if I obeyed him without exception. Gathering our kit, we got into our car and reached Chawla Uncle's room next to the tennis courts. Chawla Uncle was standing outside adjusting his camera and his lenses - he is a very enthusiastic
photographer. Apparently Chawla Uncle's passion for photography was known to the
subordinate staff, one of whom had caught a baby cobra and brought it to him for photography, no doubt excepting some "traditional" fauji appreciation.
The basket he brought it in was one of the fruit baskets made of thin bamboo slats and which had disintegrated with the cobra inside it. The basket was intact with the snake trapped in it but lifting it or moving it would most probably cause it to fall apart
and the baby cobra to escape. Chawla uncle needed Dad's help to photograph and then release the snake.
Baby Cobra seen from the side
Image credit - Abhinav Chawla
Now, baby snakes are delicate. A hard grip can easily damage their slender jaw bones or their soft internal organs with a lingering painful death following. Yet a baby cobra is venomous from the moment it is born, a miniature version of its parents. Now dad
is unfazed by large, strong snakes but handling a juvenile venomous snake calls for a different set of technique. So we did what every person who is out of his depth should do - call in an expert. In this case, the expert was Dad's good friend Col Christopher
Rego who is posted in the Bombay Sappers. Dad and Chris Uncle were YOs room-mates.
Chris Uncle came onto the scene - fortunately he was free that evening.We procured another basket while he was on the way - this time akin to those used by snake charmers.
Chris uncle took the bottom half of the snake charmer's basket and reverted it on a piece of cardboard. He then had it propped open with a shoe and slid it close to the fruit basket now on its last legs. He offered the entrance under this basket as a new sanctuary
snake while disturbing it from the other end with a snake stick. The baby cobra bought the trick and slid under the new basket. Then uncle flipped the cardboard over and placed the top cover before the infant realised what was happening.
We then took the baby cobra to the Demolition ground where the snake could not escape and adequate safety distances are available. Contrary to urban legend, man can easily outrun snakes. Here Christopher Uncle showed Dad and Chawla Uncle the correct technique
to catch baby cobras without endangering oneself and without hurting it. Then we released
the baby snake in the marshes near where the Water Plume is shown and it immediately swam into a large puddle and entered a hole just to be sure we could not recaptue it again.