Monday, January 16, 2012
According to one article in The Times of India, five out of the ten best cities to live in India are located in Kerala. This Indian state is a popular tourist destination for multiple reasons, including its spectacular scenery, world class yoga, and Ayurveda treatments. Not mentioned in the article is the state's exceptionally rich snake fauna - it’s difficult to understand why this was overlooked. One Kerala man is exceptionally well known for his efforts to conserve snakes, Vava Suresh of Thiruvananthapuram. Locally he is known as the 'Snake Man' and is estimated to have rescued and conserved 5000 snakes which have strayed into the human world in and around Trivandrum. Vava Suresh attributes his passion for snakes from childhood experiences which started at about age twelve. He is well known for rescuing and releasing endangered species of snakes and collecting eggs and protecting them during incubation, and then releasing the neonates into natural habitats. One recent article about him included the following, "Time and again, he has paid the price for flirting with danger. Hardly a few months ago, he was battling for life in a hospital ICU after being bitten by an enraged cobra. The skin on his hands bears the mark of several viper bites." The photos below show Vava Suresh's snake handling and education efforts as well as documenting his encounter with a Russell's viper. The photos were recently sent to me by Dr. A. Biju Kumar at the University of Kerala.