ITANAGAR, Jul 15: Field staff and officers from the Pakke Tiger Reserve, Singchung Biodiversity and Community Reserve and Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary have taken on the responsibility of mitigating conflict between humans and snakes throughout their ranges.
In order to do this efficiently, the teams were trained on identification, handling and management of snakes in and around human habitation.
Gerry Martin and Chandini Chhabra of The Gerry Martin Project (TGMP) partnered with the Divisional Forest Officers of the Arunachal Pradesh Forest Department and ran the entire programme in two phases.
The first phase was a visit to both locations in May, 2017 where Martin and Chhabra exposed all the teams to the basics of snake behaviour, identification and handling as well as the management and first aid of snakebites in two days training workshops at Tippi as well as Ramalingam.
It was then felt that a more extensive training was required for staff to get properly trained as snake-conflict managers. Very often snakes have entered people’s houses in the rainy season and are often killed.
Accordingly, the second phase of in-house training was conducted from July 7 to 13 for a select few members of staff from both the reserves at TGMP’s field base.
A private donor supported the travel of Pakke Tiger Reserve staff to Rathnapuri, Hunsur in Karnataka.
The participants were exposed to the realities of working with snakes in the wild and in various scenarios.
This included learning to catch snakes in water bodies, trees and other difficult situations.
Wild snakes were tracked during the day as well as night and the trainees were taught how to safely handle them without any stress to the snake or danger to the handler. Other sessions also included taxonomy, snakebite treatment, managing conflict scenarios, dealing with crowds and more.
“The boys have learned a lot and have made tremendous progress with their skills”, said Martin.
“I am very impressed by the dedication, hard work and commitment to learning that they have all demonstrated and I know that they will be effective in their efforts to mitigate human-snake conflict”, he added.
The group also interacted with children from the local schools around Hunsur and shared their experiences of working in Arunachal Pradesh.
The children were very excited to meet the staff and hear their stories. They made cards for the staff with messages and thanked them for their service towards protection.
“This has been a very inspiring trip on all fronts”, said Kime Rambia, Range Forest Officer of Tippi Wildlife Range.
Now that the teams have made their way back to Pakke and Eaglenest, one of the main services that the teams will provide will be the removal of snakes from within human dwellings. If you do have a snake in your house, office, factory, etc, do not try to kill the snake, as help is now near at hand.