75-year-old Muhammad: Udma's go-to snake rescuer

Muhammad is not new to snake-catching, having done this for over 50 years.
M Muhammad
M Muhammad Photo | Express

KASARAGOD: When residents of Udma face a snake problem, they make a call. Somewhere, the mobile phone of M Muhammad rings with urgency.

Within minutes, Muhammad, 75, is on his trusty old bicycle — his chariot — furiously pedalling to the destination where some terrified people, and an even more terrified reptile, await his arrival.

Muhammad is not new to snake-catching, having done this for over 50 years. In fact, he is so renowned for his expertise that even forest department officials give Muhammad a call when they want some slithering visitors removed from human habitats and released into the wild. His family is always worried about his safety. Yet, Muhammad continues to pursue his passion.

“The first time I rescued a snake was from a well when I was 18 years old. In the days, months and years since then, I have rescued many snakes, so many that I have lost count. Though I do not charge them anything for catching a snake, I happily accept whatever people give me out of happiness for, as they put it, saving them. After capturing the snakes, I alert the forest officials,” says Muhammad. Though a septuagenarian, Muhammad shows no signs of slowing down, let alone stopping.

To ensure he’s always available when they need him, Muhammed keeps his service discreet, asking people to call his personal number. This helps him ensure that calls seeking his service are not made to his home, as they would end up adding to the worries of his family. A daily wage labourer, Muhammad originally hails from Sirsi in Karnataka and came to Kasaragod when he was 16.

My family worries about my safety: Muhammad

“My family, especially my wife Bheevi, fears for my safety. However, I assure them that it saves lives and that every life is important. When people come to my house or call my home, I urge them not to contact me at home as my family would worry if they learn I have been called to catch snakes,” says Muhammad.

Muhammad’s mission is simple: Catch snakes found in human habitats and hand them over to the forest department. He believes people have destroyed the habitats of snakes and other animals in the name of development, shrinking their source of food. “This is mainly why snakes are spotted near human habitats,” he said.

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The New Indian Express