The legendary tales of army commandos feeding on snakes to survive in jungles are fast being swept into history.
With the reptiles vanishing from the jungles around Belgaum in Karnataka, home to the army’s commando school, battle-hardened soldiers now carrying chocolate bars, dry fruits and other high-calorie foods to endure the punishing three-day jungle survival course.
It is compulsory for all infantry officers to qualify the one-month commando course to assume command of a unit. “Some of us were quite excited about trying out roasted snake meat and snake broth. But there was no such luck,” said an infantry officer, who has done the course.
Preparing a snake meal is quite easy. Another officer said, “Just catch a snake, chop its head off, slice it into small pieces and roast it over a fire. The problem, however, is finding one.”
Snakes have been the protagonists in the jungle survival game for years.
There have been several instances of soldiers living off snake blood and meat when there was nothing else to eat.
Lieutenant General O.P. Nandrajog, a former army commander, said commando training played a vital role in removing the fear of snakes and teaching soldiers how the creepy crawlies could be the best bet for survival in extreme scenarios.
A senior official in the Army headquarters, who refused to be named, said, “Commandos often end up without sighting snakes though they were there in abundance at one time. So chocolates and dry fruits have become key elements of jungle survival.”
It appears soldiers can enjoy a tasty snake treat only if someone bothers to launch some sort of species monitoring and recovery programme. Meanwhile, chocolates aren’t a bad substitute.