Guwahati, Wednesday, March 24, 2010
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Naturalist duo’s bid for protection of snakes
A correspondent
 KOHORA, March 23 – Often snake are killed due to its venomous quality without understanding its actual importance in maintaining the balance and ecology. Snakes help in protection of foodgrains by killing and eating insects, rats and rodents and keeping their population at a threshold level.

 “We should not kill the snakes. We should try to protect them for proper ecological balance,” said Monoj Gogoi and Shankuraj Sarma of Kohora, two young naturalists who have been protecting and rescuing snakes since April, 2006. In fact they treat the injured snakes at their small rehabilitation centre and subsequently release them into the forest area.

When asked what motivated them to come forward to rescue and protect the snakes, both the naturalist said that the snake which are mostly avoided by humans population due to a fear psychosis attached to them, play a vital role in keeping the population of insects, rodents, etc under control. Otherwise it would have created havoc in human lives.

Sharing his experiences, Monoj Gogoi said that he once saw a python being dragged by some people with the help of rope. On his interference, the python was rescued and brought his home. “Later, it vomitted out a chicken weighing around 2 kg,” said Monoj Gogoi, adding that the python was later released into the forest area.

When asked about the number of species rescued by them, the naturalists said that till now they had rescued about 18 different species of snakes and records have been maintained with photographs. Naturalist Shankuraj Sharma informed that they have encountered many problems while rescuing the snakes, since some people do not believe in conservation and protection and rather feel safe in killing snakes.

It is worthmentioning that all snakes are not venomous and they are classified as venomous, low venomous and non-venomous. Indian cobra, King cobra, banded krait are venomous snakes; while red-necked keelback is low venomous and rat snakes are non-venomous. Different types of snakes like King cobra, Burmese python, monocled cobra, banded krait, rat snake, common wolf snake, checkered keelback, green pit viper and ornate flying snake have been found in and around Kaziranga National Park.

It is worthmentioning that ornate flying snake can jump from one tree to another by adjusting their body whenever it senses any kind of danger. It is also to be noted that King cobra and cobra are different species.

Firoj Ahmed, who has been doing research work on snakes since 1997 and Abhijeet Das, who is doing his PhD on reptiles (both from Aaranyak), informed that Assam has around 80 different species of snakes and 102 species are found in the North-East region, More than 90 per cent are non-venomous.

Monoj Gogoi and Shankuraj Sharma said that they have started an organisation called NRSB (Naturalist for Rehabilitation of Snakes and Birds) to further carry out their research-oriented work on snakes. “Till now we have been doing the work with our own pocket money. Hopefully, we may get help in the near future”, they said.

Snakes help in protection of paddy fields since they can penetrate deep inside the holes where rodents stay and kill them. The need of the hour is mass awareness programmes among the people, especially the student community for the protection of the snakes.

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