Getting wrapped by anaconda to help conserve big snakes

Paul Rosolie during the stunt, ‘Eaten Alive’, recorded by Discovery Channel. Photo: special arrangement  

An anaconda feels “incredibly strong” when it constricts a person, said Paul Rosolie. He should know. The conservationist and author of Mother of God got himself wrapped up by a 100-kg, 19-foot-long captive green anaconda of the Amazon for an hour. A carbon vest kept him from getting crushed by the massive reptile.

“The aim of participating in the stunt was to draw attention to the issue of conserving the anacondas of the Amazon and to tell people not to kill snakes,” he said on Friday in Bengaluru, where he lives with his wife for half the year (and the rest in New York).

Snakes, he said, were not aggressive, man-eating creatures but “influential predators” essential to the ecosystem and necessary for people to live.

Called ‘Eaten Alive’, the stunt was recorded by Discovery Channel. It was telecast in the U.S. in December. It followed a 60-day expedition by an eight-member team in May and June last year into the Amazon’s “floating forests” to study anacondas. Though anacondas are at the top of the river’s food chain, they are killed by people in the Amazon just as snakes are killed in India, out of fear. He said, “People benefit from having snakes around. No snake will ever attack a person. Ever.”

The aim was also to save the Amazonian forests, home to the anacondas, which like all forests, are being destroyed by governments, corporations, for “development”, despite generating one-fifth of the world’s oxygen and being home to the maximum number of species. Illegal gold mining was destroying the Amazonian forests, he said. With illegal gold mining came mercury, which enters rivers, fish, animals and finally, into people.

Mr. Rosolie said stunts were “sometimes” necessary to draw people’s attention to issues and get them to think about them. Despite films and mass media, people do not realise that forests keep us alive. While the message was received positively in India, where people are familiar with the issue of human-animal conflicts than in the U.S., where the stunt was in focus.

He said, “The scientific community criticised me a lot for this show. But I did it to protect the anaconda.”

The project was documented by Gowri Varanashi, Mr. Rosolie’s wildlife photographer wife, who also leads expeditions into the Amazon.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 3:05:40 PM |

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