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Barn owls, toddy cats caught from houses released into wild

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Noble act: Animal rights activist Xavier Antony Kunjappu with the barn owls and toddy cats that were released into the wild on Monday.
Noble act: Animal rights activist Xavier Antony Kunjappu with the barn owls and toddy cats that were released into the wild on Monday.

Staff Reporter

Thrissur: Barn owls and toddy cats caught from Chettupuzha and Puthoorkkara sometime ago with the help of animal rights activist Xavier Antony Kunjappu were released into the wild on Monday.

After they were caught, the birds and animals were looked after by Mr. Kunjappu. They were handed over to Forest officials at the Ponganamkadu Range on Monday.

Five barn owlets were found in the attic of the residence of K.L. Sebastian of Kolannur House in Chettupuzha. With the permission of Forest officials, they were caught two months ago and taken to Mr. Kunjappu’s farm. Having grown, the birds were released into the wild.

Three toddy cats caught from the residence of Kodankandathu Punnose in Puthoorkkara a month ago were also released by forest officials into the forest.

Mr. Kunjappu is a well-known snake-catcher in Thrissur. But he catches snakes that slither into human settlements only and later releases them into the wild.

Reptiles rescued

In the last three decades, he has rescued over 20,000 snakes, including five king cobras. He is summoned, mostly by Forest officials, whenever a snake is spotted anywhere in Thrissur district. An expert snake catcher, he has never failed in any attempt.

“I am against killing snakes. I help people catch snakes only if they want the reptiles to be released into the wild,” he said.

With the ease of a magician, he pulls snakes out of burrows. “Snakes can concentrate only on one thing at a time. I hold a stick before the snake as a distraction. And quickly grasp it from the base of its neck. You have to make sure you grasp the snake close to its head. Else, it will turn and bite you. Hold its tail with the other hand,” he said.

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