Karnataka’s physically challenged snake man shows no fear in duty

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Express News Service

MYSURU: Pushed out of home by a serpent slithering in their living room, a family on the outskirts of Mysuru city waits in trepidation, until Girish M rides up on his specially-designed scooter for the physically challenged.

Girish darts into the house with his crutches, and in no time, lures out the snake from under a cot in the living room. Swiftly, he plucks the hissing reptile and stuffs it into a bag, ready to be released into the wild. 

The ease with which Girish performs his task belies the fact that his movement is constrained, and he needs his crutches. In a world where society willy-nilly pushes the physically challenged to the fringes and pre-judges their abilities, Girish is of great help to Mysureans who suddenly come upon snakes in their homes and gardens.

Girish, who works as an office assistant at a private company during the day, says rescuing snakes is now his hobby, and he is driven to catch snakes and release them, purely by his passion and empathy towards animals.

The man who was left with a motor disability when a tree fell on him when he was 18 years old, crushing his spine, says he took up this rather unconventional hobby after he was witness to a chilling drama.

“I was pursuing my diploma after the tree fall which left me disabled, when I saw a snake being beaten up and left to die. It was struggling to move, and reminded me of the accident that had left me helpless and in pain. That is when I decided to help these reptiles who are among the most wonderful of all species,” he said.

Starting off with smaller snakes on his college premises and at homes nearby, Girish scaled up his snake rescue activities after he met K Manu and Guruprasad P of the Mysore Amateur Naturalists in Mysuru.

“When they learnt about my interest and concern for the reptiles, they taught me tactics to catch and bag them, and also how to identify snake species. I am now a member of Mysore Amateur Naturalists,” he said.

Girish is a known name among snake rescuers in Mysuru, and gets many calls from across the city. He claims to have rescued 2,618 snakes by himself so far, and released them into the forests, with a  6-ft cobra being the largest and most recent one.

But his expertise did not come easy and nearly cost him his life during the initial days. “While doing my diploma at JSS Institute, I had captured a snake from the college campus. I got bitten while shifting it into the bag, and was lucky to get to hospital on time. I was hospitalised for a few days. I did not have much expertise then, but ever since, there hasn’t been a single misstep from my side,” he said.

Girish’s family is very supportive and has never discouraged him from rescuing snakes. “My wife Shakuntala has been my pillar of support, or I would not have been able to continue with my hobby, as there are many people with pre-conceived notions who advise me against it,” says Girish.

Their daughter Anargya Nidhi, who is waiting to write her SSLC exams, shares Girish’s interest and empathy for reptiles. “I wanted her to overcome her fear, and she has been helping me release non-poisonous snakes into the wild,” he said.

It is during the lockdown that people like Girish have a lot more work on his hands. With mobility norms turning more stringent of late, he says that he is getting ready for busier days as wildlife tends to venture out when the human race is restricted indoors. He recalls that this was the case during last year’s lockdown too.

Snakes rescued 

2,618 reptiles were released into the wild. He has rescued a 6-ft cobra which was his largest snake till date and the most recent one.



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