Bongaigaon, Jan 5: A grandfather’s advice had turned a teenager from being a snake killer 15 years ago into a snake conservationist, and now he is known as one of the most skilled snake rescuers in Bongaigaon district.
Kartik Orao (32), a resident of Jakuapara-Pahartoli in Bongaigaon, has already rescued over a thousand venomous and non-venomous snakes of different species from various parts of Bongaigaon district in the past 15 years and released all of them into forests.
“I stopped killing snakes when my grandfather, who was a devotee of lord Shiva and lived a life of an ascetic, had advised me one day not to kill them as they, too, have the right to live like us, and explained their importance for a healthy ecology. I was 17-year-old then,” Kartik said.
From then on, Kartik has been rescuing snakes. He has caught many snakes with the help of a bamboo stick and put them in a gunny bag before taking them to the forest or handing over to the forest department.
He could hone his snake catching skills thanks to the guidance given by a local Nature activist Arnab Bose, and also by reading a few books he could purchase. His Nature-loving friends Dharma Kanta Ray and Kingshuk Das Choudhury also helped him in his snake rescue missions in Bongaigaon town area.
Kartik, a class IX-passed youth, rescued snake species like python, cobra, rat snake and Russell’s viper using merely a rope and a bamboo stick, so he had to face risk of snake bite on several occasions.
“Considering the risky nature of the rescue activity, Dr Raju Das, a member of Nature’s Foster, a local NGO, provided me a tong just three months ago. It has been of great help; I’ve never got anything from any government agency,” he said.
Kartik has released many rescued snakes in the Kakoijana Reserved Forest and the Nakkati Forest in Bongaigaon, either individually or with the help of the forest department.
“It is very difficult to rescue a venomous snake. When people gather around me to watch the rescue act, the noise made by the crowd tends to break my concentration and makes the whole mission quite dangerous,” Kartik said.
The people of the urban and rural areas in the district often call him up to catch snakes whenever serpents enter their houses, especially during summer and rainy seasons, Kartik said, adding that after rescuing the snakes he does not charge anything in return from the people.
“I rescued a Russell’s viper, an extremely venomous snake, for the first time at Chaprakata in Bongaigaon one-and-a-half years ago. I rescued it casually, with the help of a stick, thinking it was just a baby python. Later, I realized the grave danger when Arnab Bose identified it,” Kartik said, sharing the experience. - Tejesh Tripathy