A Russell’s Viper, one of the most venomous snakes found in Asia, was rescued from a deep open well in Ponnusangampatty in Thuraiyur taluk on Tuesday by K. Naveen, a farmer and environmentalist, with the help of a few volunteers.
Mr. Naveen, who runs a 10-hectare (approximately 24 acres) farm in Krishnapuram, Mavilipatty Panchayat, has carried out around 6-7 animal rescue missions in and around Thuraiyur since the lockdown began, with the last two involving Russell’s Vipers, known to be one of the most venomous snakes found in Asia.
“I got a call from Ponnusangampatty elders on Monday night that a snake had been spotted inside the well, which could potentially poison the only source of water for the village. Since the well was very deep and also had a small grove of trees around it, we felt it was better to use a makeshift raft covered with coconut fronds that the snake could climb on to. But unlike other snakes, the Russell’s Viper is not equipped to wind itself around any object; so it kept slipping off from the wooden frame,” Mr. Naveen told The Hindu .
After an hour elapsed, and the snake remained marooned, Mr. Naveen decided to lower himself into the well with the help of a rope harness.
“We had 10 volunteers from the village who were in charge of handling the ropes, and though I nearly lost my balance when I went in, I was able to brace myself quickly. Luckily my helmet saved me from head injury, as I banged myself against the well’s stone wall,” he said.
The entire episode, which lasted two and a half hours on Tuesday, was filmed on camera as well.
Mr. Naveen was able to catch the snake and bag it in a large sack, to keep both itself and the excited villagers out of harm’s way. He later handed the snake over to the Thuraiyur Forest Department, for safe release into its natural habitat.
“Snakes are commonly spotted in water bodies during the rainy season, and also when there is a prolonged dry spell in farmlands. I guess this snake may have inadvertently fallen into the well during the recent showers in our district,” said Mr. Naveen, who conducts many conservation programmes through his Global Nature Foundation.
“It is better to rescue snakes, rather than kill them, because they are an important part of the agricultural landscape.”