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The story of the snake festival
mahesh agarwal | 17 Aug 2013

On the eve of Nagpanchami total 52 snakes were rescued from the clutches of snake charmers. The species of snakes include Russell?s Viper, Spectacled Cobras, Rat Snakes and Indian Rock Pythons. The snakes were rescued from Kachiguda, Uppal, Barkatpura, Begumpet, Amberpet, Chilkalguda, Begumbazar, Shah Ali Banda etc. The Snakes were released back into the wild as instructed by Forest Department. The efforts for the snake rescue were been made jointly with A.P. Forest Department, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and various other NGOs like Bharatiya Prani Mitra Sangh, Sahayog Organisation, Wildlife Protection Society, Karuna International etc. Besides that five parakeets were also rescued from fortune teller says Mahesh Agarwal Special officer, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau.

60 days before Nagpanchmi snakes [mainly Indian cobras and rat snakes] are caught in paddy and other fields where rats and other rodents are found. These snakes are forced into circular baskets made of slit bamboo and are kept in dark. They are made to remain in a coiled position in those baskets without food, water and sunlight. Though they manage to survive by dissolving their body fat, they suffer from cramps, dehydration and weakness.
 
Around 3 to 4 days before the festival, the snakes are removed from their baskets, by which time they are too weak to ever stir, their fangs are pulled out in a non surgical manner [usually pulled out by cutting pliers], their venom sacks are slit open and in some cases their mouths are stitched, due to which they are prone to oral complications like jaw lock, gangerine, T.T, septisemia etc.
 
Venom is a digestive enzyme with complex protein structure. It helps the snake to immobilize, kill and later digest the prey. Without its fangs and venom the snake cannot survive.
 
The snake ‘charmers’ then take the snake around the city to collect money from the public. Any snake which is hungry or thirsty for 60 days will drink anything be it water, cough syrup, whiskey, milk. Snake being a reptile does not require milk. In fact, its digestive system is not designed to digest milk fat and protein. In most cases when a snake is fed on milk, its digestive tract is irritated which results in death.
 
At the end of the day, the charmers buy some semi-precious stones and plant them on the snake’s hood, to benefit from the myth that cobra’s protect diamonds. They sell those ‘diamonds’ for a few thousand rupees. However, they do not stop at that, they skin the snake alive and sell the skin [leather].
Snakes are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
 
Lets celebrate this Nag Panchami with snake idols or pictures istead. Bharatiya PraniMitra Sangh jointly with Sahayog Organisation and other animal welfare organisation will rescue snakes from the clutches of the snake charmers during this nag panchami festival, A helpline is also established in this connection. The Helpline number is 9394005600 and 9246175600. Anybody found snake charmers around them please inform to the above mentioned helplines.