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When there's a snake in the neighbourhood

  • Published at 03:17 am October 6th, 2017
  • Last updated at 03:24 am October 6th, 2017
When there's a snake in the neighbourhood
There has been a spike in snake sighting across the country this monsoon. Since snakes are otherwise associated with rustic life and essentially shy of humans, they avoid getting into a city neighbourhood. A three to four feet long snake, suspected to be a cobra, broke the convention as it glided into a building at Road-2, Sector-13 of Uttara on Monday night. The caretaker first spotted the snake when it tried to move out from a niche, behind an IPS under the stairway on the ground floor. In no time, a crowd gathered there to have a look at the unexpected visitor. The snake was quick to sense the danger looming large and slithered into the dark zone under the stairs again. It looked like a venomous snake to the onlookers, and a team was instantaneously formed with a mission to find the snake and beat it to death. A frantic search ensued and continued for about one hour. The search was called off for that night, only to be resumed from 5:30am the next day. The snake made a brief appearance within the range of the building's close circuit camera around 2:30am, but the footage could not make sure whether the snake was entering or escaping the area. After repeated analysis of the CCTV footage, Md Shah Poran, the building's manager, opted that the snake might have escaped. Md Salauddin, the caretaker, said: “It looked like a cobra, at least three to four feet in length. I, along with the driver and others tried to kill it. But Abu Taleb told me not to kill the snake as it is an innocent creature.” Abu Taleb, one of the apartment owners and an NGO activist, did not sit idle after that. He contacted the National Zoo authority. “I contacted Dhaka Zoo official Ronjit Kumar and requested to save the snake by taking it to the zoo. But he did not come up with any positive response and said it is not their duty.” “As I was requesting him again and again, he gave me the phone number of a snake charmer, named Habibullah Khan. I contacted the snake charmer and he demanded Tk4,000 to take this snake to the zoo.” Abu Taleb agreed and hurriedly sent his car to pick up the snake charmer from Mirpur area. Later around 11am, he heard that the snake had already left the building. But the news was no relief to him and his other neighbours. There is a park and a lake nearby. The snake – which looked like a venomous one – may have strayed from there. The residents feel they are at great risk if the authorities do not come forward with assistance in such cases. They were particularly surprised when the zoo official tried to avoid the responsibility to rescue the snake. They have yet to come across a more surprising response over the matter, from the curator himself. “I would rather have killed the snake as it was venomous and would be risky for my family,” said Dhaka Zoo Curator Dr SM Nazrul Islam, when he was asked by the Dhaka Tribune what would be his response in such situation. “It is not our duty to do anything regarding this issue, rather it is the duty of Ministry of Environment and Forests,” he noted further. Conservationist Pavel Partha said it was indeed not the responsibility of the zoo to rescue a wild animal straying into a human habitation, but at the same time, the zoo curator cannot suggest killing the wild animal in any way, being a public servant. “It is a scary thing for urban people to see a snake inside their buildings. There are wildlife scouts working with the Forest Department to rescue such animals. However, most of the people do not know who to contact. “It was a win-win situation for the snake and the human at that particular instance, as the snake managed to leave the area before any harm was done. We read news that people across the country are used to killing snakes in numbers. They do not know the proper way to deal with a venomous creature and opts for killing. But there was no mention in those news that there are wildlife scouts who could be contacted to rescue the creatures. “These creatures and wild animals could be saved if there was a mechanism to ensure quick response from the Forest Department. The representatives and the officials of the local government could be tagged in the process. Whenever any wild animal is sighted, the local government officials should be informed. They will later relay the information to the Forest Department. It is simple and implementable. There is no need of any red tapism in it,” suggested Pavel Partha, who is currently working with Bangladesh Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge (BARCIK) as a research coordinator.
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