The snake people of southern India

Canada Goose Outlet A few years ago, when I travelled through the dry, thorny scrublands of South India, someone had pointed at Canada Goose online the raised hood of this snake by the roadside. At the time, though, I was inside an air Canada Goose Outlet conditioned car on a perfectly canada goose deals paved highway that stretched like a gash on the countryside. The speed of the car and my urban eyesight had shielded me from its power. Canada Goose Outlet

canada goose uk shop Now, I was standing less than 3m away from a cobra, with only a short brick wall separating us. I couldn take my eyes off the hissing, cheap Canada Goose striking, fully grown king of snakes. canada goose uk shop

buy canada goose jacket cheap are trimming trees outside, said Rajendran, calmly handling the cobra, one of India most venomous snakes, wearing only a loose cotton shirt and a faded lungi (sarong). He guided the cobra towards a clay pot using a long metal rod with a smooth hook at the end. vibrations of that work are making the snake nervous. On that blindingly hot day, the sun was turning the waters of the Bay of Bengal into sparkling bands of silver as he spoke about his work with snakes. buy canada goose jacket cheap

Rajendran belongs to the Irula tribe, one of India oldest indigenous communities, who live along the north eastern coast of the state of Tamil Nadu. They are known for their ancient and intimate knowledge of canada goose coats snakes, and their skills form an important but nearly invisible part of the healthcare system in India.

canada goose store Many people are scared of snakes, but we must remember that the snake is only interested in survival canada goose store

people are scared of snakes, Rajendran said, standing next to a large sign of the non venomous snakes of the region. we must remember that the snake is only interested in survival. If we move in agitation, the snake perceives a threat and can strike. If we stand still, however, it will often slither away. were at the offices of the Irula Snake Catchers Industrial Co Operative Society, which was formed in 1978 in Vadanemmeli to capture snakes and extract their venom. Nearly 50,000 people die of snakebites each year in the country, and the only reliable treatment is the prompt administration of antivenom. Six companies canada goose store across India produce around 1.5 million vials of antivenom annually, and most of it is derived from the venom buy canada goose jacket extracted by the Irulas.

View image of Members of India’s Irula tribe are known for their ancient and intimate knowledge of snakes (Credit: Credit: Jeff Rotman/Alamy)

canada goose clearance sale Rajendran jumped into a sunken sandpit enclosed by a low brick wall, telling me to remain outside. A high thatched roof protected the space from the sun, and a small raised platform in the centre of the pit had a simple blackboard with details of the snakes being held in the facility. This was the venom extraction site. canada goose clearance sale

uk canada goose Rajendran retrieved a kannadi viriyan (Russell viper) from a pot in a corner of the sandpit and placed it on the platform. The beautiful circular patterns on its skin often inspire fear because it is one of the most aggressive venomous snakes in the region. uk canada goose

aren holding too many snakes right now, he said, pointing to the numerous rows of empty clay pots, neatly arranged outside the thatch structure. Each pot will be half filled with sand before housing two snakes each, and the mouth of the pot will be carefully sealed with porous cotton cloth so that the snakes can leave the pot but there is still enough air. It is a necessary precaution, especially when the number of venomous snakes is so large, both for the safety of the snakes and for human beings in the area.

View image of The Irulas capture snakes and extract their venom (Credit: Credit: ARUN SANKAR/Getty Images)

buy canada goose jacket The co operative has official licenses to hold about 800 snakes at a time. keep every snake for 21 canada goose coats on sale days, and extract venom four times during that period, Rajendran said. The snakes are then released into the wild. A small mark on their belly scales canadian goose jacket prevents the same snake from being caught repeatedly. mark goes away after a few moultings. confidence in handling snakes and his deep understanding of these creatures are derived from a childhood spent in the forests and scrublands of the region. Before he turned 10, he had seen hundreds of snakes being captured. The Irulas usually work in silence, even when they go into the forest with others. They instinctively know the significance of faint signs on the ground to canada goose clearance sale either follow clues or dismiss them. However, they often canada goose clearance find it Canada Goose sale hard to articulate the details of their understanding, even to people who study reptiles. buy canada goose jacket

canada goose coats View image of Nearly 50,000 people die of canada goose outlet snakebites each year in India (Credit: Credit: ARUN SANKAR/Getty Images) canada goose coats

Canada Goose sale The origins of the Irula community and their interaction with snakes are shrouded in mystery, but their mythology blends local animistic traditions with the vocabulary of mainstream religion. Their main deity is a virgin goddess called Kanniamma, who is deeply associated with the cobra. Many rituals involve the priest entering a trance and hissing like a snake, symbolising the spirit of the goddess. Canada Goose sale

canadian goose jacket Ironically, for a large part of the 20th Century, tens of thousands of Irulas made a living by hunting snakes for their skin. Out of reverence to their goddess, though, they wouldn eat its meat. Local tanners would pay between 10 and 50 rupees for a single skin before processing and exporting it to Europe and the United States for use in the fashion industry. In 1972, however, the Wildlife Protection Act in India banned the hunting of a number of animals, including snakes. canadian goose jacket

canada goose black friday sale the Wildlife Protection Act came into force, the Irulas Canada Goose Parka were in bad shape, said Romulus Whitaker, a herpetologist and conservationist who has worked with the Irulas for nearly 50 years. He explained that the small amount of money they made from selling snake skins was still a large part of the monthly income for many Irula families. canada goose black friday sale

canada goose coats on sale would say that they were starving, Whitaker added. canada goose coats on sale

canada goose uk outlet View image of Around 1.5 million vials of antivenom are produced each year from venom extracted by the Irulas (Credit: Credit: Nature Picture Library/Alamy) canada goose uk outlet

Canada Goose Parka The formation of the co operative society was an important turning point. Though the collective employed less than 1% of the population (which was estimated to be around 190,000 in a 2011 census), its presence provided legitimacy canada goose black friday sale for their traditional skills. As hunter gatherers, the Irulas were canada goose used to being considered poachers by local government officials. They were also viewed with suspicion by other communities in the region, and their work with snakes added to the prejudice. Canada Goose Parka

Susila, an Irula woman, spoke about the discrimination they often faced.

cheap canada goose uk we went into the village, we were called derogatory names, she said. were not treated well and were often cheated when we borrowed money. Irulas were illiterate and ended up as bonded labourers, de husking rice in mills. There was pride in Susila voice, though, when she talked about the skill they would bring even to that incredibly difficult work. can work very hard and very carefully. At the end of a day work, we wouldn have broken the tips of even a single grain of rice during the de husking process. Two members of the collective, Masi and Vadivel, flew half way across the world to participate in a project aimed at curbing the extensive problem of Burmese pythons in the Everglades National Park. These enormous snakes have established a large breeding population in the Everglades, and are threatening endangered populations of small mammals in the national park. cheap canada goose uk

Over a span of two months, after 60 forays into the Everglades, Masi and Vadivel captured 34 pythons. Trained sniffer dogs as well as American hunters were unable to match this efficiency. Irulas] are our best bet, said Joe Wasilewski, a wildlife expert with the University of Florida, speaking about a long term solution for protecting endangered species from Burmese pythons.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *