15-year-old boy from Srikakulam spearheads mission to save snakes

Since its inception, Snake Speek has reached approximately 300 students and engaged with over 60 villages in Srikakulam district.
15-year-old Sampath Kantimahanti
15-year-old Sampath Kantimahanti

VISAKHAPATNAM: The 15-year-old Sampath Kantimahanti from Srikakulam is spearheading efforts to safeguard snakes and mitigate human-wildlife conflicts with his initiative, Snake Speek. His journey commenced within the realm of his father’s environmental organisation, ‘Green Mercy,’ where he sought solace in wildlife following the untimely loss of his mother during his early childhood.

Reflecting on his early years, Sampath recalled, “I used to travel with my father because I was afraid of living alone in the house.” His involvement in Green Mercy’s awareness campaigns since the age of eight has fueled his passion for wildlife conservation.

Motivated by the surge in local snake rescue requests received by his family, Sampath launched ‘Snake Speek’ last year. The project’s primary objective is to educate communities, especially farmers and villagers, on preventive measures against snake bites and dispel misconceptions surrounding the reptiles. In explaining his drive, Sampath expressed, “Witnessing the fervour of students during awareness camps spurred me to initiate Snake Speek. Our aim is to foster harmony between humans and snakes through education and awareness.”

The initiative employs various strategies, including interactive presentations, educational videos, and discussions, to disseminate knowledge about conservation of snakes and biodiversity. Additionally, the project conducts outreach programmes in conflict-prone communities, facilitating dialogue and promoting coexistence with wildlife.

Drawing on his experiences, Sampath noted, “Collaborating with professional snake rescuers ensures the protection of both humans and snakes. Through my interactions with students, I identify areas of heightened human-wildlife conflicts, enabling timely interventions.”

Since its inception, Snake Speek has reached approximately 300 students and engaged with over 60 villages in Srikakulam district. Sampath’s involvement extends beyond awareness campaigns, as he actively responds to non-venomous snake rescue calls, contributing to the rescue of over 50 snakes. “Growing up with dogs taught me the unconditional nature of wildlife and the imperative to conserve and protect them,” he shared.

With aspirations to establish a wildlife refuge, dedicated to snakes, in the Eastern Ghats, Sampath’s vision underscores his commitment to wildlife conservation in India.

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