Puttur, March 5, 2015: As per reports, iconic herpetologist Dr Ravindranath Aithal, who has saved thousands of snakes, which were on the verge of being killed or dying, has stopped his service following a notice from Forest Department.
Humble, simple and down to earth, Dr Aithal has always been the one people would resort to calling in case they spot a snake somewhere in the vicinity and he too has never let them down.
From catching snakes to treating people for snake bites, Dr Aithal has won the hearts of the people across the district.
He himself may have lost count of the number of snakes that must have been operated and treated for injuries and returned to the forests.
Now, after decades of valuable service, Dr Aithal was served a notice by the forest department stating that he has to seek prior permission from the department for catching snakes.
The notice further lays down several other conditions, which have only left Dr Aithal’s hands tied.
In 1987, Dr Aithal had got the license to do the work that he has been doing. In 2003, he started ‘Sheshavana’ at Kallare with permission from Central animal Welfare Board. Sheshavana is an animal rescue and rehabilitation centre where rescued snakes are provided treatment and once fit are released to their natural habitat.
With Dr Aithal having carved a niche for himself in this particular field, his decision and the move of the forest department has left the people in Puttur and nearby areas stunned. Over the last 35 years, he has rescued about 60,000 snakes of various varieties. At Sheshavana, over 20,000 eggs of snakes were hatched using advanced technology.
The notice reads that Dr Aithal can reserve any two variety of snakes in Sheshavana and the rest will have to be released to the forest, he can conduct programmes to create awareness on snakes, his services can be sought by the Department of Forest if required, he can rescue the snakes in case they are found in public areas and also provide treatment if the snake is injured, he is required to update the department on the work done by him on monthly basis, sale of snakes are prohibited, he cannot exhibit the snakes in his custody.
With certain difficulties with regard to following some points in the notice, Dr Aithal has now stopped rescue work.
“Even before going to a spot to rescue a snake, I have to seek permission of the forest department, which is not always possible. I am a doctor by profession. I work as a snake catcher only because of my passion and to help people. I have been bearing all the costs myself- may it be traveling to places or providing treatment to the snakes. Further releasing the snake to wild within 24 hours is not practical because very often the snakes are injured and they need treatment for several days,” says Dr Aithal.
One may have to only wait and watch if this snake catcher by passion is given a free hand to do what he does the best. People should do their bit to move the concerned authorities too.