The forest division team of Bhopal caught hold of 79 snakes including 58 cobra snakes, rat snakes and water snakes from snake charmers recently. The limbless reptiles were then taken to Van Vihar for further treatment where they were treated by experts.
“Snake charmers break jaws and take out the teeth and poison gland from the snakes. They also stitch their mouths for further safety of theirs. Little do they know that how much torture the poor creatures go through,” says Dr Atul Gupta, senior veterinary doctor at Van Vihar. He was assisted by Salim Saanpwala throughout the handling and treatment of the snakes.
“There was no snake with teeth and poison gland intact. Even rat snakes (ghoda pachhad) that are not poisonous were in the same distorted condition. I along with Dr Atul gave first aid to these snakes and even cut down the stitches. It was sad to see those non-speaking creatures bleed for no reason,” said Salim Saanpwala.
The Van Vihar team will be keeping these snakes under observation for at least 30-40 hours and then will be handing to Salim afterwards. He will release these snakes into Budhni forests.
“They will soon die. Once you remove the most important gland out of a living creature, it is bound to die. Their digestion goes awry. Because of the stitches, puss formation takes place inside them. They cannot eat anything. They go through all this torture because people like us are entertained and a few think that worshipping or treating them with milk will bring them good fortune. Snake charmers keep the snakes hungry for fifteen-twenty days and bring before people on Nag Panchmi. Hungry snakes will have whatever is kept in front of them. But milk acts like a poison to them. This does not belong to their nature. They belong to wild nature and eat other small animals like frogs and rats and not milk. Milk generates puss inside their bodies and the vulnerable die,” explains Salim.
On being asked about the whole activity, Van Vihar director Atul Shrivastav said, “They were caught in a very bad condition by the forest department flying squad. We ensured they get the best possible treatment over here. They will be soon in their natural surroundings and we hope that they survive.”