It was in June this year, when snake catchers at Hyderabad's Rashtrapati Nilayam which is the southern sojourn for President Pranab Mukherjee, were running all over the place a few minutes after the president's arrival, as a four-foot cobra was slithering towards the heritage building at Bolarum.
To avoid a similar situation again, a dozen snake charmers were deployed across the sprawling 90-acre campus, and are guarding President Pranab Mukherjee during his stay in Hyderabad from December 18-31.
A report in The Sunday Guardian adds:
The residence is located 25 km from the city outskirts, but the Presidentâ€™s bodyguards, who take care of his personal security, are haunted by the large presence of snakes that populate this area. Some of the snakes that mostly rest in the rooms of the Rashtrapati Nilayam are poisonous, including cobras.
â€śWe were horrified to catch two big cobras, each about 9 feet long, inside the presidential palace. These snake charmers are veterans in their field,â€ť the newspaper quotes an official as saying.
"A total of five snakes were caught before the president's arrival. This includes two rat snakes, two cobras and one banded racer. Once the snakes are caught, they're handed over to us," Gopi Ravi, curator of the Nehru Zoological Park, told The News Minute.
The snakes are checked for stress levels and are later released into the wild following due procedures.
"We deployed the snake catchers from December 1, when the Telangana chief secretary gave us instructions," Ravi adds.
The officials also add that there is no preventive measure to keep snakes off the area as the residence is unoccupied during most of the year.
"We initially deployed over a dozen people and cleared the area. Now we have six on stand by, in case of any untoward incident," Ravi says.
A report in The Hindustan Times adds that the men are paid Rs 400 a day each for the job and the authorities had also earlier engaged a couple of langurs to clear the vicinity of monkeys, something which worked to tackle the monkey problem during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
The state's horticulture department was also given the task of removing any beehives prior to the presidential visit.