Deema Kumar has lost count of the number of snakes that he might have killed over his 21 years of service. “It’s likely between 45 and 50, maybe even more,” he said. But then his superiors explained to him that it’s us humans who have invaded their territory and not the other way round. “I do not kill snakes anymore. To be honest, I’d kill them out of fear when I did. However, I’ve come to know snakes better now, so I’m not that afraid of them anymore,” he confessed.
A home guard at the Telangana State Police Academy, Kumar, along with his colleague A. Narayana, will now be playing Wild Frank for the inmates of the prestigious academy.
Spread over 148 acres amid lush green hillocks in the Himayat Sagar, the Telangana State Police Academy quite frequently witnesses the arrival of the unwanted visitors — both venomous and non-venomous — which, in the past, has caused inmates to resort to killing the reptiles. However, things have changed now.
After the academy’s boss and director, Santosh Mehra, made it clear to his men that snakes were no longer to be killed in the academy, both the home guards were sent to the Friends of Snakes Society, where they were taught how to catch snakes without harming them. “It is us humans who have invaded their territory and therefore, we have no right to kill them. Bearing that in mind, I’ve ordered my men not to kill snakes anymore. In order to ensure the safety of the snakes, we sent two of our home guards to the Friends of Snakes Society, where they learnt the subtle art of catching snakes. Subsequently, the snakes shall be returned to the society, unharmed,” he explained.
Recently, a highly venomous Cobra somehow managed to find its way into Santosh's house but was caught and handed over to the society. “We were trained over 10 days during which, we learnt about the various types of snakes — both venomous and non-venomous — and how to handle them, and what they feed on. It was an enlightening experience. Now that we have learnt exactly how to catch snakes, we do not kill them,” said Kumar.
The snakes have so far not harmed anybody from the academy, but the academy’s hospital does have anti-venom injections.
The home guards are now equipped with hooks and bags to catch snakes and store them until returned to the Friends of Snakes Society. “Until recently, we had not a hint of the harm we were causing by killing every snake we’d sight. Better late than never, though, we have put an end to the practice now, and have informed everybody in the academy to let either Kumar or Narayana know if they ever spot a snake,” said Raghava Rao, Assistant Director (Administration)....