Snakes rock my world! by Mamta Naidu

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When I spot a snake I sit and admire it while people around me go from,  “Eww”, “Oh my God!”, “Creepy”, “slimy”, “dangerous”,  to “kill it.”

Ever since I was able to spell ‘Cobra’ in school I’ve been an ardent snake lover, much to my mother’s chagrin.  And Kaa from Mowgli only added to it. I thought snakes were mysterious and alluring.  And my mother dragging me to the anthills- mistaken for snake burrows - during Nag Panchami, to seek the Snake God’s blessings only heightened my fascination for these beautiful creatures.

The Snake God did bless me, for I had the opportunity to learn about snakes from renowned herpetologists like Romulus Whitaker, Gerry Martin and Nirmal Kulkarni.

The walls of my bedroom are  covered with snake posters punctuated by Bradley Cooper and Johnny Depp to break the monotony.  My mother shudders   at the thought of  entering my room and I curse myself for not thinking of this idea when I was much younger!  Sigh!

From time to time I have to have some snake time to rejuvenate my mind and soul. So I made a trip to Agumbe hoping to see some Ophiophagus hannahs (King Cobras) in action.

Areca Nut Plantation in Agumbe, Karnataka

If you’re like me-  a little weird and love incessant rains, a plethora of glistening little shrubs as well as tall trees in all shades of greens, yellows and browns, the orchestra  of  cicadas all day and night, leeches (of course not on me but in the forest, for leeches are indicators of pristine forests), alluring King Cobras, reticent Pit Vipers, ubiquitous frogs - then  Agumbe is most definitely for you.

There is no way we would return from Agumbe without spotting a snake – it always    lived up to its reputation.  When we spotted our first snake, a Pit Viper with green morph, our joy knew no bounds. We got more than 100 pictures of the gorgeous fellow sitting calmly in the same position with an “I don’t care” attitude .  If he knew he was going to be on FB and evoke some emotions, perhaps he would’ve have changed his posture.  We thought this would be the only Pit Viper   we would see during our trip. In a matter of few hours we saw another Pit Viper with a brown morph.  A green morph and a brown morph! We went mad with excitement. We shot another 100 pictures of this fellow too and I must say that they all have the same couldn’t-care-less attitude.

Malabar Pit Viper in Agumbe, Karnataka

Just when we thought we wouldn’t see any more snakes Ms. Vine with her innocent and slender face appeared.  In a matter of one and half days three snakes was a good deal for me.

We were about to windup our trip, content with our snake sightings when  Prashant, a herpetologist, who was helping us with our stay and trip, got a King Cobra rescue call.  I was heady with joy when I heard the name “King Cobra.”  Thrilled we tagged along with Prasanth.

This King Cobra was found in a backyard in a village called Someshwara.   When the villagers saw that it  was not moving for more than  three days  they  called the forest department. Wise people!

Prasanth with all his tools- hooks, pipe, bag, etc -would make Rambo look like boy next door. He brought the King Cobra, perhaps old or sick, out of a shrub  very  carefully.  It felt like he was  gently untangling a baby’s hair. And thenI bagged the King Cobra!  Yay!  We released him in an open ground close by praying that  he would survive.

King Cobra in Someshwara, Karnataka

When you look into the eyes of a King Cobra you will realize why he deserves the respect he gets. What a majestic animal! What a beauty! To me this clearly tops the list of most beautiful creatures ever to exist on this planet. It felt like  he was sending some signals through his eyes and calming my soul.  I never felt this inspired and composed ever in my life.

I was thoroughly intoxicated for several days after the rescue.

I can’t imagine my life without snakes in it.  Snakes rock my world!

 

Author's profile:

I’m a Hyderabadi living in Bangalore. An IT professional and when I’m not doing IT stuff you’ll find me spending most of my time around horses and snakes with a camera dangling around my neck. A wildlife enthusiast, kicked about anything that has to do with conservation, wildlife or otherwise. I also love to trek and travel the world. Mighty and addictive Himalayas is my favourite place in the world. I capture my experiences and express my feelings through photography and writing.