UNFAIR TO THE UNLOVELY
July 16 is observed as World Snake Day to enhance the conservation of these misunderstood and persecuted reptiles. Of these, the checkered keelback suffers the most. We often come across news from mofussil towns and villages of keelbacks in dozens surfacing from drains and killed in tangled heaps by "alert" authorities or local vigilantes. Keelbacks even surfaced in a Kharar house once through an open drain and climbed the curtains in droves, a surreal spectacle evocative of a Hollywood horror flick.
Little wonder as a female keelback can lay up to 90 eggs! On the flip side, there was some good news as Nikhil Sanger of the Wildlife Conservation Society rescued 38 keelbacks from the cemented garden drain in Ashok Kumar's house in Balachaur, Punjab (see photo). But I do wonder what is so dirty and dangerous about snakes? Do we abide by the uncivilised thumb rule: a good snake is a dead snake? Fact is, the keelback is neither venomous nor is it a carrier of rabies or other diseases.
PHOTO: NIKHIL SANGER
Dogs and squirrels are more lethal as they are both carriers of rabies. Unlike dogs, a snake never chases and bites a human. But snakes suffer because they are neither cute nor cuddly! The keelback creates fear because humans are susceptible to appearances. Snakes appear repulsive and we react accordingly without ascertaining facts. But please note, of the numerous snake species found in the tricity region, only three can harm humans.
TROUT AT RAINBOW'S END
Fishing for rainbow trout in the snow-fed rivers and nullahs that weave and tumble down the fir-clad slopes of Kashmir is a distraction that few sportsmen can resist. Professional golfer and former Asia No. 1, Jyoti Randhawa, took time off from recent championships in Kashmir to go fishing at Gulmarg, Pahalgam and finally at Wangath on the Kangan-Sonamarg route where the Sindh river rages in crystalline currents crested with white foam. Randhawa was accompanied by his erstwhile brother-in-law and professional golfer, Digvijay Singh, and his caddie, Surya Vijai Singh, who is also an aspiring golfer.
CAPTION: Randhawa fishing at Wangath. PHOTO: MEDIA/PGTI
Trout fishing deploys a fly-rod and artificial baits as live or dead baits are not allowed. The angler often walks along the swirling currents rather than plonking himself at one spot and casts his line deep and wide to bag the swift trout. Though Randhawa has been an angler for the last two years, he has only recently taken to trout fishing. Randhawa caught five trout at Wangath as the bag limit for a day is six.
According to Randhawa, trout fishing requires patience and casting a line is a sublime accomplishment. What adds the proverbial icing to the thrill is cooking trout along the river banks. Digvijay swears trout is the "softest, tastiest meat". They carry their stove whenever they go fishing. According to him, the secret of good trout is: "Ten minutes of marination with butter, and then cooking the trout with garlic within 20 minutes till it turns brown. Add lemon on top. Voila! It is ready to hook your taste buds."
A BAD NEIGHBOUR
What does one do when a sambar deer dies in a neighbour's fields and raises a health hazard and a stink to the high heavens? Dube Singh, an ex-Armyman currently employed as a course marshall at the Chandigarh Golf Club, faced a torrid three days at his home in Chandikotla village just ahead of Chandimandir on the Kalka highway. The sambar died on the night of July 14 in the fields of his neighbour, Bhag Singh, who instead of taking remedial action merely dumped the carcass in the adjoining scrubland.
PHOTO: LOKENDRA SINGH
Faced with an unrepentant neighbour, Dube Singh contacted the Haryana Wildlife department's inspector Jaibir Singh on Tuesday. The inspector sent a guard to Bhag Singh's house and asked him to bury the carcass or the department would file a case of poaching against him. The inspector, via the guard, also promised Bhag Singh that the department would reimburse Rs. 1,000 as burial expenses.
However, Bhag Singh refused to bury the deer. A frustrated Dube Singh again contacted the inspector, who finally sent three guards on Thursday afternoon and they burnt the sambar with diesel and buried it. No post-mortem or other formalities required under wildlife laws were carried out. Though the inspector claimed that the sambar died following a road accident, locals cite the possibility of snakebite or electrocution. There was also a possibility of the deer having been poached but this angle got conveniently burnt and buried.