June 27, 2011
A tiny piece of information regarding snakes by Pooja Shah in the July issue of care4nature(E-magzine) inspired me to share some more myths on snakes in
rural Rajasthan which I think to an extent justify to science and rurals as well.
Myths, may it be on anything, are never false but they are always time proven general observations around people & followed by the justifications of the
innocent brains or sometimes created by shrewd quacks. Snakes!!! after God unfortunately crowns the maximum number of myths amongst all immortals and living things, in my last 18 Yrs. of resquing, releasing & general social working on reptiles I came across
many situations for example a road side welder once called me on the site & I saw a rare behavior of a cobra, the welder and the labour around refused to work cos a cobra used to surface a few minutes after the welder would start welding in the underground
pipeline, I was unable to help at that time but now I think I know the reason, Infact the Arc welding rod leaves a long trail of red hot metal behind it, snakes depend upon their Thermal vision for food & the hot trail of metal must be giving an illusion of
a smaller snake or amillipede or may be some other insect in the snakes menue.
Similar is the reason behind a common misbelief that the Ratsnake (Dhaman) suckles milk from the cow’s nipples& people are not lying when they say they have
seen this, in fact this is another illusion of the thermal vision, the ratsnake confuses the nipple for a live rat & holds around it looking for the head of the rat as all reptiles eat their prey from the head first, the moment it realizes that its not a rat
it simply leaves it, but why ratsnakes only do this? this is so as ratsnakes have a great ability to lift their bodies very high in comparison to the rest.
It is most commonly believed that snake charmers remove the teeth of the cobra as protectection, but snake charmers or beggers to be precise are far more
cruel than simple Defanging, The heart touching fact is that the helpless cobra’shead is laid inverted on an upside down mud pot and then using a shaving blade an H shaped incision is made inside the mouth over the venom duct to expose it, then a small piece
of the duct is cut off in order to delink the venom gland and the fangs, turmeric powder is then applied as a disinfectant. Even if thecobra survives the trauma the results of this barefoot surgery are sad as the snake is unable to eat on its own and neither
can it digest the force fed egg or minced meat, nothing on earth can stop the snake from dying due to starvation& in addition to this snake charmers stop giving water to their snakes months before the Naga festivals cos the snake has to perform in public the
act of drinking milk while the starved reptile is actually drinking milk to satisfy the quench of water as it has no other options.
Well! Placing myths and the facts behind is endless, it is required that we wildlifers start sharing the responsibility to generate awareness to protect
this innocent reptile, there are very simple things we can do like stop entertaining charmers on streets and ask others to follow, efforts are to be made by coordinating with NGOs dealing with beggers& ask them to add charmers in their targets & to help snake
charmers find alternate means of living.
It is not a good idea to call a snake charmer or a local wildlife activist involved in snake resquing (like me) if in case a snake enters the house as the
snake charmer will kill the cobra & if it some other snake apart cobra he will simply leave it next doors cos he will never bother to find the right place to release, where as the local wildlife activist is likely to release it in some forest adding to food
pressure on regular basis, any how removing the snake or killing it is never a solution as a new snake will take its place uptill the food source (rat, frogs, insects, lizards, bird nests) is not removed so it is always better to shift the snake outside the
house and explain to people the facts of their food chain and easy availability.
It is indeed very difficult to explain this to most of the people around because of the myths and fears but that is where we conservationists are required
in the society. This reminds me of an instance where I made a Monitor Lizard (varanusbengalensis) bite my finger in order to explain to the villagers that it is not poisonous and to my surprise they started making fun of me saying ”We know you are not gonna
die as you catch snakes, you’ve poison in you but we’ll surely die if this one bites any one of us” I felt very helpless indeed but continued to work. Today people of that village are far more aware about snakes than what they were at that time.
June 25, 2011
Over the last five years, the forest department has rescued more than 70 leopards in North Bengal. In most cases the animals, which is covered as a co-predator under the tiger conservation programme, were rescued from tea gardens. Bushes are like natural
cover for leopards and the drains running through the tea gardens are used as the hiding place. The heap of leaves in the drains acts as a cushion for the big cats, especially when the females give birth to their cubs.
In many cases in the past, leopards lost their life in conflict with humans when they strayed into villages or gardens. Since the predators often lift livestock animals, humans prefer to kill them once spotted. Around five-six leopards and a couple of human
beings die in this conflict every year.
June 11, 2011
"Do Elephants View Humans As Direct Threats?
We are constantly learning more about how intelligent elephants are, about their incredible memory, their tight family structure, and their intricate language. In fact, just a couple days ago we learned about a study showing
how very alike humans and elephants are. Considering that this species is always surprising us with their smarts, the conflict between elephants and humans may go even deeper than habitat loss. Gay Bradshaw, an elephant behavior expert, tells Live Science
that with humans killing elephants, the aggression could be stemming from this violent interaction.
Bradshaw says elephants are simply reacting as people would when under siege. People are shooting, spearing, poisoning the big animals: "From a psychologist's perspective, that's trauma. If you look at elephants and people, that's the same thing
we see with people under siege and genocide."
Bradshaw likens the conflict between humans and elephants to colonialism, with the people taking over the elephants' indigenous culture, and with "elephants fighting to keep their culture and their society as they are pushed into smaller places and killed
It's easy to brush this theory off, saying that Bradshaw is anthropomorphizing elephants and that attacks such as what occurred in Mysore is the result of four males getting separated from the herd and lost in the scary streets of a strange city. However,
if we pause for a moment and consider the amazing things we know about elephants, the idea that wild elephants view humans as a direct threat more than ever isn't such a stretch."
Read full article at
[Open in new window]
May 17, 2011
"Man-animal (anthropogenic) conflict in India is taking a heavy toll on habitat
and thereby the survival of wildlife. Habitat fragmentation is leading to
isolation of animals, inbreeding, and causing local extinction of such
species. If wildlife are restricted in their movements and in their sociology
(mating patterns and territoriality) it will lead to inbreeding, further
weakening the genetic pool. This applies to all endangered birds, reptiles,
insects, and mammals.
In early 2010 there was an official alert that 1000 tigers were reduced to
skin and bone since the last census of 2008. The 2008 census said there
1411 tigers remaining. Only 50 percent are females. Of these there are
many which are old and frail, and are not breeding any more. Many other
males are of the same bloodline so mating is impossible. Genetic
inbreeding amongst felines is one of the greatest threats to tiger numbers.
Taking all this into account, only 1/3rd of the 1000 odd tiger population in
India are fit to breed."-Malini Shankar
Read More at
December 20, 2007
Elephants that migrate through human populated areas of India are bound to enter into conflict with farmers and other land owners. Considering there is no "safe haven" or isolated area in all of India that is free of human habituation, elephant and human
conflict in inevitable. Living in such close proximity to each other has resulted in hundreds of animals falling into man-made ditches ("traps") and has caused others to be hit by cars.
The image shown here displays the ugly and cruel side of this conflict. The poisoning of migrating herds is a common tool used to rid of them completely. The elephant here is a victim of poisoning who also had a message carved into the side of it’s hide
that reads: "Paddy thief, elephant Laden". The culprit of this poisoning is equating these endangered animals with terrorists.
August 15, 2007
Indian National Snakebite Protocol
India has now become the first country to formally approve a National Snakebite Protocol. This
includes both treatment and first aid. In addition, the Government committed to nationwide training for each
State and a comprehensive programme of research with the Indian Council
for Medical Research. This will address many of the unanswered
questions on snakebite management and identify the ever growing list of
medically significant snakes in India.
The notion of ’the Big 4’ was abandoned as being inaccurate and dated. More medically significant snakes are emerging which has serious
implications for the supply of effective anti venoms. A significant amount of training has already taken place in 6 States
and more will follow. India has now taken major steps to remove itself from the top of the mortality list where snakebite is concerned.
Wild Goa Yahoo group Posting by firstname.lastname@example.org
May 12, 2006
Jason Antony and Ankur Chaturvedi:
I found this extremely interesting article on the website of Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun. Here is an excerpt
---"For example, elephants use their powerful infrasonic calls in long distance communication, which can be monitored from a long distance using infrasonic recorder. Earlier studies reveal that the elephants strongly respond to their conspecific calls playback
even up to 7 km. distance. Till now, surveys of forest elephants have been based on systematic counts of dung. Cornell Laboratory of Bioacoustics, USA, is developing a new technique known as ‘acoustical monitoring system for elephants’ census.Long
distance acoustical monitoring of the elephants not only useful in population estimation but also be used to alert the peoples living on the edges of forests, regarding the movements of elephants."
The full article by Ani Kumar, discussing sounds made by birds and other mammals is available at the link below
Jason Anthony Fisher
May 02, 2006
Has anyone one heard of the research in Africa on the recording of Elephant sounds and using those as means (Albeit Still experimental) to 'trick' elephants to avoinding areas? For example, they have learned the sounds( not audible for human ears) with technology
to 'warn Lions are approaching'. The elephants go into a defensive mode and avoid areas with that warning call. It's amazing. Surely, this could be done with Asian Elephants. Couldn't it? Just a thought. What if there were a recorded 'Tiger or Leopard approaching
Jason Fisher (Las Vegas, USA)
April 21, 2006
Mr. Ankur Chaturvedi seems to have a good way of keeping elephants at bay from straying into plantations or any other human settlement.
True, like he says we are in the way of the elephants and not the other way.
I would like to know what method Mr. Chaturvedi has in mind to keep elephants from harms way. May be, if has to be discussed with a lot of like minded people and if found very appropriate, urge the Govt. authorities to implement the same. We can campaign
for such causes from the IWC platform itself, with all the subscribers and members making an e-mail campain to implement the idea. There is a lot we can do, we only have the first few steps.
July 02, 2005
Ankur had sent an email to us seeking help to implement his ideas. We thought throwing open the subject in our open blog forum will bring in some valuable comments.
You can also contact Ankur at his email id email@example.com.