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Kerala to have certified snake handlers

Topics Covered: Disaster management.

Kerala to have certified snake handlers:


Context:

Becoming the first to institutionalise snake handling in the country, the Kerala Forest Department has framed guidelines for rescuing snakes from human dominated places and releasing them in uninhabited areas.

Guidelines:

  1. Mandatory certification: It is mandatory for snake handlers, aged between 21 and 65 years, to seek certification.
  2. Selection process: The applications will be screened by the Assistant Conservators of Forest (ACF, Social Forestry) to prepare lists of snake handlers in each district. Various parameters, including experience, age, health as well as track record will be considered during the selection process.
  3. Those short-listed will be required to undergo mandatory training on safe and scientific handling of snakes.
  4. Validity of certificates: While the certification will be valid for five years, the respective ACFs can withdraw or cancel the same if the snake handler is found to be involved in any illegal or unethical practices.
  5. Precautions: Certified snake handlers will be required to wear protective gear and equip themselves with safety equipment while on the task.
  6. Rescued snakes will also have to be released in the presence of forest officials at the earliest. If found injured, the snake can be released only after ascertaining its fitness. Non-native species, however, cannot be released and have to be handed over to the Forest Department.

Need for:

There have been allegations of unscientific approaches by snake catchers that tend to create stress to the animal and pose risk to their and others’ lives.

  • Kerala has reported 334 deaths and 1,860 other cases of snake-bites during the last three years.
  • There have also been allegations of snakes being supplied for criminal purposes.

Sources: the Hindu.