PUNE: Wildlife activists and snake catchers in the city will conduct a public awareness campaign and a drive to ‘save snakes’ in the city on Monday, on the occasion of Nag Panchami. The activists have appealed to citizens to use idols or replicas of snakes to worship instead of real ones. The intention of the drive, the activists said, is to create awareness about snakes and the wrong practices that people follow under the garb of religious practices.
People worship snakes, especially the cobras, during Nag Panchami. Snake charmers and collectors bring snakes and cobras to public places and display them at snake shows. The reptiles are abused. Their fangs are removed, and they are starved so that they consume milk offered to them by the devotees. This kind of torture proves fatal for the snakes.
Santosh Thorat, president of the Wild Animal and Snake Protection Society, said citizens can contact the organisation if they come across such practice. The organisation will send its volunteers not only in the city areas but also too talukas in the district.
Anil Avachite, a snake catcher, said though awareness has increasing in using idols of snakes instead of using real ones in religious activities, more awareness is required. Avachite, who is associated with the organisation, People for the Animal, said the number of snakes he used to rescue from snake charmers on Nag Panchami has reduced. These days he rescues around eight snakes as against around 40 nearly 10 years ago. “It shows a declining trend in using actual snakes for the puja, but awareness drives should continue till the number reaches zero,” he said.
The Pune Municipal Corporation has also planned to create awareness about snakes at the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park at Katraj, where public awareness talks will be conducted throughout the day. “We appeal to students to visit the park, where the experts will proffer information on identifying snakes,” said Ashwini Shitole, education officer, garden department, PMC.She said the park authorities will keep snake idols in the park so that if people want to worship it.