Maharashtra forest department issues guidelines for the rescue and release of snakes
A standard operating procedure was issued for the regulation of snake rescues, creation of a network among snake rescuers and forest department, and documentation of every rescueUpdated: Feb 01, 2018 00:27 IST
The state forest department, during a two-day conference on snake research earlier this week, issued guidelines on how to rescue and release snakes which are found in human habitat areas.
The conference and workshop was hosted by the forest department and Organisation of Wildlife Studies (OWLS) in Mahad, Raigad, and a standard operating procedure (SOP) was issued for the regulation of snake rescues, creation of a network among snake rescuers and forest department, and documentation of every rescue.
The 5- point list gives directives to snake rescue volunteers, who are required to have had training and scientific knowledge of handling snakes. The volunteers need to gather information and brief the caller prior to the rescue, among other things.
“Indulging in live snake shows or keeping them in captivity is prohibited,” the SOP said.
According to data recorded by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Maharashtra recorded the highest number of snakebite emergency cases in 2017. 24,437 snakebite cases were recorded in the state, 21% of the 1.14 lakh cases recorded across India.
“This is the first time the state has released such guidelines where citizens, in collaboration with the forest department, are trying to ensure that snakes are not harmed and bite incidents are reduced,” said Sunil Limaye, assistant principal chief conservator of forest, Nagpur. “The SOP has been sent to the state, and a government resolution is expected soon.”
Mumbai-based herpetologist Kedar Bhide, along with other experts requested the state to declare snake bite death as a notifiable disease and to compensate victims. “This SOP will help mitigate snake-human conflict and develop framework for coexistence,” he said.