Snake catchers always work in a group. Photo: M. Karunakaran courtesy: The Hindu
P. OPPILI, The Hindu, CHENNAI, September 6, 2009
Armed with a crowbar, a sabre and a cotton bag, the group sets out at 5.30 a.m. from Vadanemmeli on East Coast Road. Taking the first bus to Mambakkam village on the Kelambakkam – Vandalur Road, the five-member team goes to a paddy field in the nearby Kolathur village.
This is the daily routine of Irula tribals involved in snake catching, who are employed by the Irula Snake Catchers Industrial Co-operative Society functioning from the Crocodile Bank on ECR.
G. Vadivel, who entered the profession when he was barely seven years old, says they catch only four species of poisonous snakes – cobra, krait, saw-scaled viper and Russel’s viper – found on paddy fields in Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts. […]
K. Ramesh, a third generation snake catcher, said the Irulas always move in groups of four or five to ensure that there are people around in the event of a snake bite. They consume a herb before setting out to catch snakes, details of which they are reluctant to part with.
Another snake catcher, C. Sankar, says from dawn till 11.30 a.m. they are on the fields. “We catch only poisonous snakes and when we come across non-poisonous ones we do not even touch them as they are farmer’s best friends. They help to keep the rodent population under control.” When he was bitten by a poisonous snake recently, the Society bore the entire medical expenses.
S. Dravida Mani, secretary of the Society, says it was started in 1982 mainly to help the tribal community earn a permanent income. It has 344 members with an annual turnover of Rs.1.5 crore. The members are allowed to catch 8,500 snakes a year. While the members get Rs. 2,000 for every cobra caught, they are paid Rs. 700 for krait, Rs. 2,000 for Russel’s viper and Rs. 250 for saw-scaled viper. Apart from this the members are paid bonus and incentive.
The Society is involved in extracting venom, which is in great demand for making anti-venom serum. A gram of cobra venom costs Rs. 25,000, that of krait Rs. 40,000, Russel’s viper Rs. 30,000 and saw-scaled viper Rs.45,000.
According to snake catchers, most of the youth in their tribe join them after dropping out of school.
Source: The Hindu : Cities / Chennai : Not a charmed life for snake catchers at work
Address : http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Chennai/article16004.ece
Date Visited: Thu Mar 22 2012 18:24:34 GMT+0100 (CET)
The country has the highest number of Indigenous people in the world after Africa. As tribes uphold unique cultures, their preservation is vital at a time when a specific national cultural discourse is growing stronger.
In the light of extreme right-wing ideology dominating the nation, there is a need to explore the tribal consciousness in the backdrop of climate change, development, and deforestation.
[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]
Research the above issues with the help of Shodhganga: A reservoir of theses from universities all over India, made available under Open Access >>
Publications on the above issues may be found here (title descriptions and libraries):
- Biodiversity | Hyderabad biodiversity pledge
- Ecology and environment
- eJournal & ePub | eLearning: Center for World Indigenous Studies
- Forest Rights Act (FRA)
- Gandhian social movement
- Health and nutrition | Recommendations by the Expert Committee
- Indigenous knowledge systems
- M S Swaminathan
- Native science
- Nature and wildlife
- Revival of traditions
- Rural poverty
- Sacred grove
- Shola Trust | Nilgiri biosphere
- Success story
- Tagore and rural culture
- “The tribal food basket has always been diverse and nutritious”
- Tribal culture worldwide
- Vandana Shiva
- Wildlife tourism
- What is the Forest Rights Act about?
Who is a forest dweller under this law, and who gets rights?