By Eco Green Force
In most of the more recently developed suburbs of Bangalore, one might very often come across reports of snakes in houses, backyards, gardens, and even inside cars or motorcycles. Such instances have given Bangalore the title of a 'Snake city' in the recent past. But is this really a matter of concern, one might ask.
Snakes thrive in areas where there are plenty of frogs, birds and other small mammals around, while keeping destructive and disease carrying rodents in check. To complete the food chain, snakes in turn get eaten by larger predatory birds. So having snakes around is actually a sign of a thriving ecosystem.
While snakes have always existed around these areas, what makes encounters with humans more frequent in Bangalore in recent years is the unprecedented growth faced by the city, into areas that were in earlier years just cultivated farmlands, lakes and forested areas.
When lakes turn into tech parks, and farmlands now hold high rise apartment structures, the snakes that otherwise kept moving around underground from one burrow to another, find occasions to make an appearance, especially when burrows get filled with water during the rains, and when there is a lack of cool places during the summer.
Snakes commonly reported around Bangalore include the 'Big 4' â€“ the Spectacled Cobra, Russelâ€™s Viper, Saw-Scaled Viper and Krait, as well as several non-venomous ones like rat snakes, keelbacks, green vine snakes and kukri snakes to name a few.
So what does one do when you see a snake? If out in the open, the answer is simple â€“ just let it be! However if inside a house or close to human quarters, call a rescuer and ensure you are keeping an eye on the snake while help arrives.
It is highly unlikely for a snake to bite unless one tries to touch it or handle it. In order to ensure that rescued snakes are released ethically, make sure you accompany the rescuer to the release site immediately after the rescue.
Do not try to kill a snake as this is a non-bailable offence under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
It is important to ensure a crowd does not gather, as snakes will get stressed and also defensive with too many people around, and with everyone having a smart phone these days, incidents of people trying to take 'selfies' and other pictures, and ending up getting bitten has occurred many a time.
The absence of a single network or organisation for rescuing snakes make is tricky in Bangalore. While the BBMP, as well as some NGOs also have rescue teams (numbers available online), there are many independent rescuers in Bangalore, and there have been many reports of unethical and dangerous rescue practices by some rescuers. If you see any unethical practices by rescuers, be sure to report the same to the local Range Forest Officer (RFO).
(Eco Green Force is a organisation that works on a variety of initiatives to restore a balanced and thriving ecosystem.)