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| Last Updated:: 02/01/2017

Now, a project to crush myths about pythons










In what seems to be a perfect start of the year for one of the most 'misunderstood' species of snakes- the python- a Goa based herpetologist and conservationist has kick started a nationwide initiative- 'Living with Pythons' to create awareness about the three python species found in India.



Brainchild of Nirmal Kulkarni who has been actively involved in the conservation and protection of Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa, the initiative is aimed to promote acceptance, understanding and awareness about these python species through conservation outreach and field-based herpetology techniques.



"We have decided to dedicate the year 2017 to pythons and will hold field discussions, engagements with communities, youth and Forest Department personnel. A specific target group of reptile enthusiasts and amateur snake handlers and rescuers in the states of Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra will also be sensitised on these ecologically important species," said Kulkarni adding that there will be a major emphasis on creating awareness on the issue of human-snake conflicts that are key to python survival in human dominated rural and urban landscapes.



Infact, as part of the project, Kulkarni and his team are also looking forward to set in place a common protocol for python rescue and release.



Herpetologists claim that the pythons were the most ignored snakes. All the three species found in India including the Indian Rock Python, Burmese Python and Reticulated python were under severe threat from human activities. "Being huge in size, they create a kind of panic among people, and the myth of them swallowing children and humans only make the case worse for them for which they are instantly killed. Also, unlike other snakes, they are not very quick and cannot escape easily, which makes them even more vulnerable," informed Pawan Sharma Founder of NGO Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare a Mumbai based organisation rescuing urban wildlife.



The Reticulated python is now acknowledged as one of the largest snakes in the world, the Burmese python is a near threatened species in its range in Burma plagued by illegal skin trade and habitat loss has taken a heavy toll and the ray of hope for them are the forest of North East India where few populations survive.




According to Kulkarni, the Indian Rock python which is the most common of the python species found across India was one of the most threatened ones due to human-reptile conflict and habitat loss. "Its facing a situation like the leopards. These snakes live in the forest or fringes. With destruction of forest and increasing human development activity along the fringes they come in contact with humans who either capture them and release them at a different location or simply kill them," he said sharing that they were aiming to change the perception of people and encouraging them to co-exist with these gentle giants.