Sunday, 26 May 2013

Snakes on then run as number of snake catchers multiply rapidly

During the day, Santosh Kumar (27) from Edayarpalayam works as a collection agent for Aircel Cellular Services in the city. The lean youth who sports a baseball cap most of the time however claims that his heart is not in his day job but in his hobby, which is to catch snakes from urban homes and neighbourhoods to release them later into the wild.   

Santosh claims that he has been attracted to snakes since childhood and has caught thousands of the reptile over the last several years. “Recently, I decided to form an organisation and announce to the public about my service,” Santosh says. “So I formed the ‘Mother of All Snakes Organisations’ with a few friends who also enjoy catching snakes.”

As the name of his organisation implies, Santosh’s new outfit is one among the several groups that have sprouted recently claiming to be experts in catching snakes.  Around two years ago, a group of graduates from in and around the city formed an organsiation called ‘Save our Snakes (SOS)’ with the same agenda. 

“We wanted to form an organisation and publicisize this service as we do not want to encourage unscrupulous elements from catching snakes for a huge price,” said Ratheesh of SOS after forming his outfit.
Since then, atleast two other groups of youngsters in the city continue to advertise themselves in public places and through word-of-mouth about the service they render. Most of these modern-day snake charmers catch snakes from neighbourhoods when they receive a distress call and accept a sum of money for their work.  

Fifty-year-old Murugan from Sembatti Colony popularly known as Snake Murugan is the predecessor for all these snake catchers having made catching snakes as his profession for the last three decades. “I have not done any other job besides catching snakes and releasing them into the wild. As far as I am concerned, it is a noble service,” says Snake Murugan, who was recently bitten by a venomous snake and was seriously injured. “I do not demand any money but when people give me out of love I accept it gracefully. I have caught snakes in several government offices and commercial buildings as they approach me for help,” he says.

Even as the forest department guidelines clearly indicate that all wildlife come under the chief wildlife warden and that only licensed persons are allowed to catch snakes, these new age snake charmers, most of whom do it for a hobby, go scott free and release these snakes into the wild without maintaining any data on the reptile. According to one snake catcher, he has released atleast 1000 snakes in the forests surrounding Anaikatti alone, which could alter the balance in the region.


  1. hello sir,
    I am also a volunteer and a snake rescuer in SOS team. I am P.Vishnu Ram doing my final year BE in PSG College of Technology. I am happy to see your post on a social cause. Please don't mistake me. There are few points which i would like to clear with you. Myself, Santhosh kumar and Ameen and 20 others are all trained by Mr.Rathish and all of us are volunteers and rescuers in SOS organization. Snake murugan is not a part of our organization. "Mother of all snakes" was started only about a year ago but "Save Our Snakes" has been started and actively functioning since 2005. SOS is a registered organization. SOS maintains perfect record over each rescue and release the snakes in various forest in and around the city with the knowledge of the Forest Department. The Fire Service, The Forest Department, The Police Department all direct their calls to our organization when enquired about snake rescue. Mr.Rathish has given training in snake handling to forest and fire service personnel. Not only snakes SOS has also rescued about 70 endangered birds around 100 chameleon and around 30 monitor lizard. SOS has conducted about 100 awareness camps on snakes in many schools, colleges, universities and tribal settlement areas.

    P.Vishnu Ram(8148471653)

  2. Catching snakes or any wildlife is an offence under Wildlife Act and is punishable. I am aware that your intentions as well as those of others like you are good and we appreciate it. But, the forest department and fire service department are expected to do this job. By taking this upon yourself, you are making yet another government worker shy away from his work. Try to make him do the job.

    The only authorised persons to catch snakes besides forest and fire and rescue services department are members of the Irula Tribal Society who have been provided licenses to catch a particular number of snakes for venom extraction. No others are allowed to catch snakes. Please check with the forest department on the modalities if you want to procure a similar license. Cheers!!

  3. Thanks for your valuable information sir. You yourself can say the govt officals to take up the job..

  4. Hi
    I am at subrmaniyam palayam near by. G.n.mills.
    Today black cobra came in to my home and went out in its own.its almoat 7 feet high as seen.
    We are in fear after thos.
    Can some one help