Nimish Singh Danu started catching snakes when he was just 15. Over the next five years, the 20-year-old from Nainital had rescued more than 70 snakes including a king cobra and Himalayan pit viper. And Nimish does not want to stop here. He wants to break the record of Vava Suresh of Kerala who is believed to have captured and rescued more than 30,000 snakes.
“I am mentally prepared to break the snake catching records after being motivated by the Bear Grylls of the Discovery Channel” he told HT. It was an accidental start to his passion when the tenth standard student in 2011 caught a rat snake that entered his home. It was his first catch but the journey continued once the boy finished his college from Dehradun and returned to Nainital.
“I have a close association with the forest department. My father works there. My uncle KC Suyal who also works there connected me with a forest contractor when I was searching for a job” he says.
Nimish was assigned task of controlling forest fires. He was also asked to assist the anti-poaching cell and help in catching snakes. A keen viewer of animal and environmental programmes on television, he started visiting places where snakes are known to enter populated areas.
One of his hardest rescue attempts involved an 18-ft long King Cobra snake which entered a house in Jeolikote in Nainital district. On August 26, Nimish was called to rescue a 15-ft long king cobra in Thandi road of Bhimtal. The operation lasted 90 minutes.
He claims he has also rescued a Himalayan pit viper from a girl’s hostel of DSB campus in Nainital. The youngster was particularly excited disclosing the rescue of a bamboo pit viper, a snake which is normally found in Sri Lanka but hardly seen in India. All he needs is a stick, a bag, gloves and courage to do a work that is considered dangerous.
Nimish earns just Rs 7,000 per month for the dangerous job. He has no insurance cover, But the ‘friend of snakes’ loves his job and has no regrets. His mother is clueless about his work but his father Chanchal Singh Danu always guides him to execute work “carefully and safely”.