Snakes and rituals

As a wildlife researcher, I was shocked by the standalone PTI photograph, “The month of Shiva — Faith beckons: Devotees hold snakes during a procession in Samastipur in Bihar on Saturday on the eve of Sawan Amavasya” (Some editions, July 23).

Most of these snakes are the Indian rat snake (Ptyas mucosa) and/or the Spectacled Cobra (Naja naja), which are listed in Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and in Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Appendix II. Both species are regarded among the most efficient controllers of rodents as they go right into rat burrows and eat the adults. Their contribution to agricultural production is remarkable in this way.A recent scientific study has also found that translocation significantly decreases a snake’s chances of survival.

As the picture shows, the snakes are of a particular size and could not have been collected in a short time. In the case of the cobra, it is often subject to cruelty — its fangs may be removed or its mouth stitched. This leads to mouth rot disease and the snake dying of starvation. Many of these snakes can become emaciated and dehydrated in captivity. Harassing and displacing wildlife in the name of rituals is unacceptable. The local administration, NGOs and veterinarians should initiate awareness to curb this.

Abhijit Das,

Dehradun, Uttarakhand

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 4:43:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/snakes-and-rituals/article19338067.ece

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