Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kingcobra - Our Third Baby !

Kingcobra - the lifeline of the Snake Cell is our third baby, means we love it very much. In fact, it arrived before our other two babies (Sukhmani and Chirag). My wife Dr Rajbir and I worked very hard to get a vehicle for the Snake Cell, to reach people anywhere in the country. We sold our wildlife T-shirts (hand printed by us) very vigorously and conducted special tours as well, to raise funds for the vehicle. We were still in need of loan. In spite of our sincerity and all that, no bank was willing to extend loan to us, as we are not money generating company. Finally, IndusInd Bank agreed to give us loan at a very high rate of interest, we paid 18.6% loan, imagine. My experience is that most people only extend lip-service for such projects in India, which I hate the most. Soon, after it was bought, we worked on it relentlessly for months to modify it, so we could make it a `self-sustainable mobile unit' for the Snake cell; its has a bed (for two), kitchen, toilet, wash-basin, enough storage, small fridge, water tank, etc.

Now, we can carry our stuff, all by ourselves for our outreach programmes. It provides support to us, like a luxury hotel, when we visit villages or schools to deliver lectures about snakes and snakebite. Now, Kingcobra has extended our range to whole India. In 2003, we travelled from Chandigarh, along the west coast, down to Cochin and Chennai and back; did six months on roads and logged 12,000 kms. Our aim was to meet like minded people all over Western side of India. Kingcobra has realised our dreams.


The Snake Cell - A Chapter in the Natural History of India !

On the World Environment Day, in 1998, I founded the Snake Cell, basically to disseminate knowledge about snakes and snakebite, to dispel fear from the minds of people, about these useful creatures. Snake Cell has remained a self-funded nature conservation project, since its inception. I take pride in saying that it has become a unique feature of this Tri-City. Almost, everyone adores its team and its efforts and has won laurels from the citizens of the region. In fact, it has added a new chapter in the natural history scenario of India.

My prime aim is to spread vital information on the subject `snakes and snakebite’ and about the role of snakes in maintaining ecological balance, to dispel the myths, fear and hatred, which people have for these useful animals. Also, educating people about the prevention of snakebite, emergencies arising from snakebite and the management of snakebite victim and first-aid that is very vital for the treatment.

With the blessings of Almighty, and of very close friends, it has continued its self-less service for ten years now, in spite of the discouraging events, such as, I was attacked by some miscreants at night (no Police action was taken) and attempted to snatch away the Snake Cell’s vehicle. Not mention the rude behavior of senior wildlife officers as well. On many such occasions, I thought of suspending snake rescue operations and work only on educating people about snakes and snakebite. But I’ve overlooked these `heart burns’ to continue to do snake rescue and disseminate information about snakes and snakebite to common man. It is hard to hold back, when people make SOS call to seek Snake Cell’s help to rescue snakes from their houses, especially when there are small kids.

People seek help from the Snake Cell to remove snakes from their premises. So far, we have caught about 1500 snakes from houses; often Common Krait (the deadliest Indian snake), which is 15 times more poisonous than a cobra. About 2500 houses were visited to attend calls to rescue snakes till this season.

Snake Cell has remained a self-funded project and has never been supported by any donations, except that a few friends and its well-wishers have extended their unflinching support to its endeavour when required.

It’s a Free Service 24 Hours A Day, in around Chandigarh.

Snakes - Fascinating Creation of Nature !

Snakes intrigue, fascinate and sometimes horrify. As well as been one of the most potent symbols of the animal world, they are also among its most fascinating members. With 2,700 species in total, snakes inhabit some of nature’s most inhospitable parts of the world – from deserts to barren mountain slopes – but are equally at home in the tree canopies of the great rainforests, or swimming in the ocean currents of the Pacific.

Snakes have always held a fascination, often bordering on an obsession, for people; and since prehistoric times, they have been shrouded in mysticism and superstition. The fascination was due, at least partly, to their strange shape and motion, and their ability to strike unexpectedly with deadly accuracy. Such inhuman or “unnatural” attributes lead them to be considered supernatural and superhuman. Myths and legends about snakes abound, and they have been worshiped and used in ceremonies and rituals all over the world.

Coiled motionless around tree branches or slithering silently through the undergrowth, snakes are the most secretive and feared of all the reptiles. Yet less than a quarter of all snakes are venomous, and they rarely attack people unless provoked. The smallest snakes are as thin as a pencil, while the largest are meter wide. All sizes are fascinating, from hooded cobras and hissing Russell's vipers to colourful golden tree snakes and amazing kingcobras.