CES and Kalinga Institute conduct a scientific training on snake rescue and snakebite management for the Karnataka Forest Department

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By Senji Laxme R R

The Evolutionary Venomics Lab (www.venomicslab.com) led by Kartik Sunagar at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc, in association with Kalinga Institute conducted a one-day workshop on snake identification, rescue and bite management for the representative divisions of the Karnataka Forest Department.

The aggravation in snakebite fatalities is partly a consequence of our obliviousness towards aborigine species. Particularly, it is important that the forest officials involved in wildlife rescue operations, who spend a majority of their time in deterring field conditions, are aware of the behaviour and threats posed by venomous snakes to avoid mishaps. Dr Kartik Sunagar, Gowri Shankar, Priyanka Swamy and Rushil Bhatt from CES initiated a scientific workshop for the Karnataka Forest Department with immense motivation and support from Mr Punati Sridhar, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Karnataka.

The training programme on snake rescue and bite-management was held at the Rajiv Gandhi National Park in Nagarahole, Karnataka and was presided by the Karnataka State Chief and Assistant Conservators of Forest. Around 60 very young forest officers of different cadre, from forest rangers to guards, enthusiastically participated in the awareness session. The training was held on 18th December 2017.

Priyanka presented an overview on the general characteristics of reptiles and ecology of snakes, followed by a presentation on the discrete features and identities of Indian venomous snakes by Gowri. Later, Kartik, addressed the myths and misconceptions associated with snakes in our culture and the precautions, clinical symptoms and the first-aid measures for

bites from different snake species in the region. Kartik further spoke about the technology and current status of antivenom in India and advocated the significance of advanced research on antivenom development in our country that suffers the highest incidence of snakebites in the world. This was followed by demonstration of ethical and safe practices on snake rescue and relocation by Gowri Shankar.

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