In a day-long anti-poaching drive by Delhi based NGO Wildlife SOS & the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department, 34 snakes were recovered from snake charmers on the last Shravan Somvar recently.
Due to Lord Shivas frequent depiction with a snake coiled around his neck, snake charmers take advantage of the peoples devotion by displaying snakes outside temples, in an attempt to extract money from them.
This year, a total of 111 snakes were seized from this cruel and illegal practice.
Earlier this week, a nine-member team from Wildlife SOS & the Forest Department took to the streets of Agra, in an effort to reprimand snake charmers who were exploiting innocent snakes, to scam devotees at temple gatherings. Lured by the mystical appeal of the snake charmers (saperas), the misinformed public is often duped into giving them large sums of money in exchange for blessings and good luck.
The team seized a total of 34 snakes from snake charmers squatting outside Khandari, Balkeshwar, Mankameshwar, Rajeshwar, Prithivinath and Rawli temples. With temperatures touching almost 33C on Wednesday, the snakes were all suffering from severe dehydration and exhaustion. In all, 30 cobras and four rat snakes were recovered from this inhuman and absurd practice. Currently, they are under temporary observation at the Wildlife SOS rescue facility, noted a release issued by the NGO.
Baiju Raj M.V, director, conservation projects of Wildlife SOS said, Some of the saperas had wrapped the snakes around their necks while others were displaying the snakes in their baskets to attract the attention of the public. While we intercepted them, we also addressed the crowd to spread a conscious message and implored them to say no to such practises.
Snake charming is not enchanting, or brave and there are no skills involved in this practice. The act of charming a snake with a flute or pungi is based on incorrect facts, as in reality snakes dont have ears and therefore cannot hear the music being played. They simply follow the movement of the flute that the snake charmer holds and considering it to be a threat, sways with it in order to strike it.
Kartick Satyanarayan, CEO of Wildlife SOS, said, Over four consecutive Mondays, we have seized a total of 111 snakes from Agra and Mathura. Cases like this confirm that snake poaching under the guise of snake charming is rampant across the country. There are hundreds of beliefs and myths surrounding snakes which are highly misleading and have given way to superstition over time. Snake charming is one among them and this practice has long been associated with tradition and religious veneration in India.
Manish Mittal, DFO Agra, said, Please do not encourage such practises as it promotes animal cruelty and wildlife poaching. Snake charming is illegal in India and is a punishable offence under Indian laws.
Wildlife SOS urges tourists and locals to avoid giving alms and thereby encouraging snake charmers from using it for display and entertainment, as this is an act of cruelty towards animals and promotes the illegal possession of protected wildlife species.