Tamil Nadu govt allows Irula members to catch snakes for venom extraction

The venom will be preserved and used for antidote preparation. After a few extractions, snakes will be released back into the wild as per the wildlife protocols, sources added.
Tamil Nadu govt allows Irula members to catch snakes for venom extraction
An Irula member

Tamil Nadu government has permitted the Irula community people to catch snakes, after obtaining necessary permission from the local wildlife officials.

The issue has been a long-pending demand from the Irula community spread over districts like The Nilgiris, Tiruvallur, Chengalpet, Krishnagiri and Trichy. But going by precedence, the state forest department has permitted the Mamallapuram Irula Co-operative Society, which has more than 400 members, to extract venom.

It’s extracted through specialised standard procedures in coordination with Irula societies that are monitored by the state foresters. “There are Irula societies and groups in Chengalpet and The Nilgiris, but permission for venom extraction is given only to the Mamallapuram society,” sources said.

The general practice is that the remuneration provided for snake catchers will be based on the weight and venom extracted from the venomous snakes. “Cobra, Russels Viper, Saw Scaled Viper and Common Krait are the common reptiles used for venom extraction,” they added.

The venom will be preserved and used for antidote preparation. After a few extractions, snakes will be released back into the wild as per the wildlife protocols, sources added.

Tamil Nadu is a home for major venous snakes spread over TN and Krishnagiri. “Sathyamangalam areas support a large population of Python, Cobra and Krait,” wildlife sources said.

“Earlier, the snake transit permits were given for Chennai Snake Park to conduct awareness demonstrations for school children, but this practice was given up. The state should also re-consider this decision, as such workshops will create more awareness among kids about the role of snakes in conservation,” said wildlife conservationist A Kumaraguru, Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Trichy. “They help in agriculture by preying on rats, and also fight zoonotic infections like leptospirosis.”

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