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Hazaribagh snakes catalogued

Hazaribagh, Dec. 12: The district’s snakes have, for the first time, slithered into distinct research categories, thanks to the efforts of Vinoba Bhave University senior zoology faculty M. Raziuddin and wildlife activist Satya Prakash.

The snake population of North Chotanagpur has been recorded and classified, in a two-year survey, which revealed the presence of 19 snake species in and around Hazaribagh. “Only five of these 19 species are venomous. Around 240 species of snakes exist in India, of which 52 are venomous,” Raziuddin said.

Providing details, Satya Prakash, who has also founded a wildlife protection NGO, Neo Human Foundation, said venomous snakes found in the area included the Common Indian Krait, Banded Krait, Spectacled Cobra, Russell’s Viper and Green Pit Viper. “All 19 species belonged to five families including Typhlopidae (blind black snakes), Boidae (boas), Colubridae (grass snakes), Elapidae (cobras and kraits), and Viperidae (vipers),” he said.

The duo first collected pictures of common snakes, including dead ones. Often, they showed pictures to residents who then identified the snakes. “In the process, we also rescued more than 100 snakes,” said Satya Prakash.

Now, the spectre of death looms over the snake population. “Just like other reptiles of India, snakes are slowly disappearing mainly because of the growing demand of snakeskin. They are also killed ruthlessly by residents and their natural habitats destroyed,” Raziuddin said.

In 1991, two experts, S. Ahmed and G. Dasgupta, had conducted a survey on snakes in Bihar but no record about the snakes of North Chotanagpur was compiled so far, Raziuddin added, saying that this triggered their enterprise.

After a proper identification of snakes and collection of photographic evidence, the duo handed all data to the department of forest and environment.

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