The Snake Escapade
|THE FOREST department has stepped in to stop citizens from being cheated by unauthorised snake- and monkey-catchers.|
Catching snakes and monkeys is profitable. Though volunteers must offer their services free, some demand steep fees.
Snakes enter houses and gardens and cause fear and panic, while monkeys often raid apartment complexes and become a nuisance.
According to sources in the forest department, 25 men are going around claiming to be authorised snake-catchers. Similarly, 10 groups of monkey-catchers claim official approval.
“For every snake they catch, they demand Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000. In the case of monkeys, the catchers demand between Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 from each apartment complex. We have been receiving complaints about such extortion,” explained B K Singh, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife).
Some volunteers allegedly let snakes and monkeys into apartment complexes and gardens and later pretend to be catchers.
Singh said, “Some animals caught by them are protected under the Indian Wildlife Act of 1972. Protection of these species is the duty of our department and if unauthorised people catch them and release them somewhere, we can’t keep track of them.”
The department has so far rejected 15 applications from people who want permission to catch snakes and monkeys.
“Animals taken out of their natural habitat and released elsewhwere find it difficult to survive,” said Singh. Bannerghatta has a wildlife park, and the numbers of predators depend on the prey they have access to. When unauthorised catchers release animals in the park, they disrupt the food chain and the balance.
“If you keep on adding rescued species into the Bannerghatta forest, it will eventually affect the life cycle of our species. That is why we have banned the release of rescued animals here,” explained Yatish Kumar, Deputy Conservator of Forest (Wildlife).
Got a problem?The Bangalore Urban forest department has appealed to citizens to call 080-23343464 if they need help to catch snakes and monkeys.
“We send authorised volunteers who do the work free of cost. We neither pay them nor does anyone. They do it purely voluntarily as a service,” Singh said.
On call are 12 snake-catchers and six groups of monkey-catchers.
With more suburbs coming under the Bangalore civic administration, and real estate expanding, the problem of animals entering human habitats is higher than ever before.
“Several green areas have moved from local municipal council limits to the BBMP,” Singh explained.
A man has been arrested on suspicion of breaking wildlife laws after he was found with 43 snakes in his car, police in the Indian city of Jaipur have said.
Rajesh Kapoor was arrested with the snakes, including eight protected cobras, in a cotton bag, police said.
Mr Kapoor has previously been linked with idol smuggling and antiques theft, superintendent of police Hawa Singh Ghumariya said.
A snake rescue team was looking after the snakes.
The arrested man runs a fitness centre in Jaipur and told journalists that he hoped to sells the snakes on the international market.
Police say that he claimed to have got the snakes from snake charmers - but their investigations revealed this to be untrue and he was arrested on suspicion of various offences in contravention of India's wildlife laws.
A snake rescue team led by Piyush Shashtri has now been deployed by police to treat the serpents, some of which are suffering from injuries, police said.
They said that three species of snake were found, but only the cobras were poisonous. It is believed they were ill-treated and kept in cruel conditions.
''Snakes are in big demand on the international market for their skins and venom," Mr Shashtri said. "Body parts are also in demand to use in herbal medicine."
Mr Ghumariya said that the snakes will be released into the forest "after completing the legal process".