Green Minute News 

On July 22, 16 snakes were seized from the illegal custody of snake charmers outside three different temples in Mathura and Vrindavan. Every year, maximum number of such cases is seen during the months of July-August. 

In a joint operation by Wildlife SOS and the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department, 11 cobras, 3 red sand boas, 1 rat snake and a juvenile royal snake were rescued and transferred to the Wildlife SOS rescue facility. The snakes were seized from snake charmers outside Galteshwar and Rangeshwar temples in Mathura and Gopeshwar Mahadev temple in Vrindavan. 

The cobras were in a dreadful condition as they had been defanged and their venom glands were extracted. The most horrifying sight, however, was that of the rat snake. One of the snake charmers had forcibly pierced a handful of mongoose hair through its head to give it a more appealing look.

The snakes had been starved for months without food or water, said Baiju Raj M V, Director Conservation Projects. “This is what makes snakes drink milk or water in a desperate attempt to alleviate dehydration. This leads to the common myth that snakes at festivals will drink milk as offerings from devotees.”

Kartick Satyanarayan, CEO and founder of Wildlife SOS said, “No animal deserves such barbaric treatment. The truth about snake charmers is very horrifying. The fangs of venomous snakes like cobras are extracted while their venom glands are punctured or gouged out. This disables the snake’s only means of defense, feeding and digestion.”

Presently, veterinarians are treating each reptile to determine whether releasing them back into their natural habitat will be feasible. Every year, thousands of devotees across the country flock the temples during this month to pay homage to the powerful deity of Shiva. 

Mukesh Kumar Sharma, Divisional Forest Officer, Mathura adds, “Using snakes for public demonstration is a punishable offence and is banned under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. This is a cruel and inhumane practice which exploits the lives of innocent wildlife species that are protected under Indian laws.”

Wildlife conservationists have urged tourists and local people to avoid giving alms and encouraging snake charmers from using snakes for display and entertainment. This is an act of cruelty towards animals and promotes the illegal possession of protected wildlife species.

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