Venomous or not, Tamil Nadu man rescues snakes of all types

Satish Kumar went on to open a wildlife rescue organisation, with a special focus on his slithering companions.

Published: 10th April 2022 08:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th April 2022 08:56 AM   |  A+A-

R Satish Kumar (second from left) and his team member training a forest official in catching snakes

R Satish Kumar (second from left) and his team member training a forest official in catching snakes. (Photo| EPS)

Express News Service

THANJAVUR: It was a warm, breezy day when 13-year-old Satish Kumar met his first cool-blooded slippery friend at Pudhu Aaru river in Thanjavur district. The seemingly innocuous black and yellow snake floated past as the boy was splashing in the river.

In a flash, he caught hold of the reptile. Later, his father Rajendran would tell him his new friend was an Asiatic water snake that was non-venomous. It was this memory that sparked Kumar's curiosity about snakes and kicked off a long friendship with the species - whether venomous or not.

Satish went on to open a wildlife rescue organisation, with a special focus on his slithering companions. Through the years, he collected a chunk of academic qualifications: BSc zoology from Tiruchy and MSc Wildlife Zoology from Assam. He did not stop there. He eventually secured a PhD, from Mysore University as well in 2006.

On a day when The New Indian Express caught up with him, he had just returned from rescuing a monkey injured in a road accident in Thanjavur city, and was exhausted. His team took the money to a veterinary hospital after providing first-aid.

It all began when local recognition came Satish's way in 2005 and he had a chance to take his love for snakes to a professional level. A snake had been found at a nearby house in his neighbourhood at Anna Nagar in Thanjavur. Before the arrival of the fire service personnel, he managed to rescue the snake. "After this, the fire station officer Elanchezhian asked me to get trained through the forest department," says Satish.

However, back then, the department did not have a training programme. Instead, Kumar began his long stint with snakes by learning from and working with Melvin Selvan, a snake researcher and rescuer.

From 2006 onwards, Satish began responding to the call of the wild - rescuing snakes.It was the year 2008 when Satish finally took the plunge to start working independently with five of his friends. They founded Endangered Wildlife and Environmental Trust (EWET) in 2012. With Thanjavur as the base, the EWET volunteers also attend to calls from surrounding districts.

According to Satish, "Our most important mission is to protect wildlife - from venomous snakes, cobras, monkeys to turtles. We prevent the public from killing them through awareness about the importance of animals to our environment."

So far, his team has rescued 15,901 wildlife creatures, most of these numbers account for Satish's favourite hissing reptile. Birds, too, are being rescued from the poachers.The volunteers release the reptiles and other wild animals into the reserve forest areas in Keeranur and even at the Kodikkarai in Nagapattinam district which is more than 80 km from Thanjavur.

While a major chunk of EWET's work involves rescue operations, the organisation also makes artificial bird nests in the summers supplied with feed.His team is also responsible for single-handedly planting 2,500 trees in the Raja Serfoji Government Arts College in Thanjavur.

The EWET also developed one acre of a Miyawaki forest at Vadakkur village in the district. The EWET's work has been recognised by the forest department which has allocated an office space for the group in the district forest officer's building.

Kumar has gone beyond rescue missions, he has undertaken the task to teach youngsters the tricks of his trade. So far, 113 youngsters have been trained in rescue operations in 12 batches. "At present, I am training a batch of 15 youths," he added. His other pupils include fire and rescue personnel or staff from the agriculture department and forest department.

His students work in cities like Chennai, Kodaikkanal, Tiruchy, Pudukkottai and Kumbakonam. T Vincent (29), a professional photographer and documentary filmmaker trained by Kumar, now a volunteer of the group, says he had to be a watcher for two years before getting trained in the actual rescue of snakes. "As rescuing snakes involves dangers, Satish wanted me to get familiar with the procedure before the hands-on experience," says Vincent.

He added there were challenging situations such as one of rescuing a cobra behind a government college hostel in Thanjavur, where the injured cobra was in a tunnel with students gathering around. "After hours of manoeuvring, I could rescue the five and half feet cobra," he says.


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