Andhra Pradesh: Python population on the rise in Koundinya wildlife sanctuary

The Nadumuru beat offers an ample prey base to the reptile, says Forest Range Officer

September 07, 2022 08:26 pm | Updated 08:26 pm IST - KUPPAM (CHITTOOR DISTRICT)

Forest staff rescuing a 20-foot python from a field abutting the Koundinya wildlife sanctuary at Nadumuru in Kuppam range in Chittoor district.

Forest staff rescuing a 20-foot python from a field abutting the Koundinya wildlife sanctuary at Nadumuru in Kuppam range in Chittoor district.

The Koundinya wildlife sanctuary, which is spread over 400 sq km in Kuppam and Palamaner forest ranges of Chittoor district bordering Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, is famous for its wild elephants. What many do not know is that inside this vast sanctuary, an area of around 4,800 hectares, called the Nadumuru beat, is earmarked by forest officials as a ‘python sanctuary’.

Of the 14 beats in Kuppam range, this is the only beat that has hundreds of pythons, some as long as 20 feet and weighing over 100 kg.

“This area is home to hundreds of pythons. In the last year, our field staff rescued over a hundred pythons from the agricultural fields, forest buffer zones, and human habitations. A few days ago, we rescued a python weighing 100 kg and 20 feet in length near Nadumuru village. It was the first time I saw such a big python in my career,” said Forest Range Officer K. Madan Mohan Reddy.

Farmers of Nadumuru, Motlapalle, Chinnaparthi Kunta, Peddaparthi Kunta, Gundlanayana Palle, Jarugu, and Srinivasapuram villages, which come under Nadumuru beat, say that their fields remain vulnerable to python incursions. “Not a single day passes when we do not encounter a python in our fields,” said Rajendran.

Farmers say the python population has witnessed a drastic rise in the past year. “The pythons enter our fields at night and are returning to the forest after devouring rodents of various kinds,” the farmers said.

“The farmers are no longer scared of pythons as they are harmless,” Mr. Madan Mohan Reddy said. “We rescue pythons that are either rendered immobile after devouring prey that is too large, or the ones that fall ill. We have rescued over a hundred pythons in the past one year, which is no small figure. It shows the level of awareness among the farmers on the importance of reptiles, particularly pythons, for the ecosystem. Farmers and youth are also joining the rescue operations, which is a welcome sign,” he said.

“It is a mystery as to why this particular beat is infested with pythons, while the other beats only report rare sightings. We are happy that the Betrayaswamy Mallappa Konda Reserve Forest, under which Nadumuru beat falls, is teeming with spotted deer, blackbucks, wild boars, rabbits, and several reptile species such as cobras and vipers, which all form the natural prey for these pythons,” Mr. Madan Mohan Reddy said.

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