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‘India home to four venomous snake species, but many more myths’
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‘Snake Man’ Saurav Barkataki being felicitated on the occasion of World Snake Day at Sonitpur Press Club at Tezpur, on Monday. – UB Photos
 TEZPUR, July 18 - Urging everyone to extend their cooperation in scaling down the human-wildlife conflict for building a better eco-friendly environment, noted litterateur and the president of Tezpur Sahitya Sabha, Hemanta Kumar Baruah said recently that wildlife including the venomous or non-venomous can never be a human being’s enemy, rather they are friends of humans because without this, a balanced ecological environment is not possible. Baruah who was speaking on the occasion of a special felicitation programme organised by the Sonitpur Press Club in connection with the World Snake Day to felicitate wildlife activist Saurav Barkataki, also said that the July 16 is celebrated as World Snake Day. “Though a relatively obscure day with unclear origins, it is celebrated by wildlife enthusiasts across the world with great passion. This day is celebrated both virtually and physically, bringing together snake-lovers to rejoice in at the marvels of nature’s creation,” he said.Highlighting certain facts regarding the day, he said that in 1967 a snake farm was started in Texas, which was subsequently brought into popular culture in the 1970’s through a song by the famous rock band the ‘Ramones’. Since then, its tourist appeal has only grown, and it has become an irresistible stop for many travellers on road-trips in the area. “July 16th is naturally the busiest day of their year, and brings World Snake Day to the attention of many who would otherwise remain ignorant of it. Small NGOs capitalise on the day to conduct awareness programmes about snakes for the general public,” Hemanta Baruah said adding that an important contribution of World Snake Day is to the cause of conservation of a sometimes dangerous but mostly misrepresented reptile. Snakes live on every continent except Antarctica, and can vary from 32 feet long pythons to tiny vine snakes. Only about one-fourth of all snakes are venomous, and all of them would much rather avoid human contact if they could. Maximum snake bite incidents occur when humans inadvertently step on or otherwise disturb the peaceful creatures. India, with all its stereotypes of snake-charmers, is home to only four venomous snake species, but many destructive superstitions and myths.

“World Snake Day, conservationists hope, can help remove people’s fears and illusions about snakes, and help them gain recognition as a marvellous adaptable apex species. The sinuous muscles and sharp fangs of snakes have captured the imagination of human societies for centuries, with the earliest known carved representation nearly 12,000 years ago in Turkey who have played a major role in religion and mythology, from the Bible to the Mahabharata to ancient Egyptian texts. Snakes play an important role in the ecosystem by controlling rodents and pests, and greater awareness can help raise support to understand these elusive creatures further. Common species are sometimes kept as pets, but in a rush for exotic species much damage can be done. For example, the species could become endangered, or be introduced to a new area by mistake, upsetting the ecological balance. The initial reaction on finding a snake for most lay-people remains fear and the desire to kill it. World Snake Day can be used as a tool to educate and inform people about how to deal with snakes, whom to call, resources available to them etc,” he maintained.

In the special felicitation programme, Saurav Barkataki who is popular among the people as ‘Sarpa Bandhu’ (friend of snake) was felicitated with a citation, phulam japi, sarai and a phulam gamosa. Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Commissioner, Sonitpur, Manoj Kumar Deka appreciated Sonitpur Press Club’s efforts in organising such an event and urged the dedicated wildlife activist to continue his service towards wildlife conservation.

Attending the function CCF, Northern Range, P Sib Kumar, in his speech stated that Saurav Barkataki is a pride for the Forest department who has always been standing with the forest department in every crisis thereby creating a positive opinion towards the wildlife conservation.

Receiving the felicitation, Saurav Barkataki said that he remains determined to work in the field of wild life conservation.

At last from the president’s chair, the president of the Press Club, Subhas Chandra Biswas said that Saurav Barkataki’s selfless zeal in saving wildlife has created an ideal spirit among the wildlife lovers. Among other dignitaries, the occasion was also graced by the DFO, Sonitpur, Debendar Suman.

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