DIBRUGARH, July 12 � Snakes so far had been a relishing meal for various ethnic communities toiling and sweating in the tea gardens of Assam. Although reptiles still happens to be edible for some, most of these communities have practically given up killing and feasting on them.
In this context, the conservatory initiative of few youths from the tea garden working communities is laudable. Aditya Oraon, Sankar Oraon, Ashok Thakur, Pradeep Oraon, Bipul Oraon, Shivam Oraon, Sunil Oraon, Dilen Oraon, Nelutpal Saikia, Pradeep Tanti, Ajoy Karmakar and Debojit Saikia, all school- going teenage students of Sessa Tea Estate have shown keen interest in protecting and preserving wildlife including reptiles. These boys have rescued as many as 65 species of snakes from the tea garden area and handed over to the forest department for the safe release in the Jokai Reserve Forest. It needs to be mentioned here that the youths had expertise themselves in snake handling on their own.
In an outstanding rescue operation conducted on Monday, Sankar Oraon, Aditya Oraon and Ashok Thakur of the tea garden rescued one 9.10 feet long female Burmese python (molurus bivittatus) from a house of one Mina Sarma, an employee of the tea garden. The rescued python is a schedule I species under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) protected with International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The python was weighing around 10 kliogram and was released at Jokai RF.
Another, male 5.5 feet long Monocled Cobra Naja Kaouthia protected under Schedule II of Indian Wildlife Protection Act and also in CITES of IUCN, was rescued from a house of Bapan Das of Sessa Tea Estate, at around 8 pm on Monday. The snake had reportedly swallowed around eight of eggs and killed instantly four chickens. Immediately Aditya Oraon, Sankar Oraon, Pradeep Oraon and Bipul Oraon rushed to the spot and rescued the live snake.
Later in the morning, Chandradeep Subba, tea garden manager was informed who communicated the incident to Rajib Rudra Tariang, a herpetologist of this region about the snakes. Rajib Rudra Tariang and Tikendrajit Gogoi rushed to the spot and examined the snake and the forest officials at Jokai Reserve Forest were informed and both the snakes were released at the reserve forest. Later, Debasish Roy, Dhurba Jyoti Baruah and Atanu Dhar of Assam Photographic Club of Assam joined the team for the release of the python and the cobra snakes.
Tiendrajit Gogoi, Associate Professor of DHSK College and Rajib Rudra Tariang, Assistant Professor of Digboi College interacted with the youths and provided many tips related to herpeto-fauna conservation and its identification. Few coloured posters on snakes of Assam prepared by Aaranyak and MacLeod Russell India Limited were distributed among the youths involved in the conservational efforts.