I am deeply pleased to have the opportunity to join my conservation colleagues here in the USA and in India as a founding board member of Save The Snakes, a community-based NGO working to mitigate human-snake conflict through education, capacity building, and citizen science. While STS is interested in threatened snake populations around the world, the focus of our initial efforts will be on communities in rural India where the iconic King cobra is facing extirpation from its native habitat.
King cobras face population declines due to rapid habitat loss, which increases their chances of conflict with humans. Additionally, they are harvested for profit in the pet trade, for their skin, for food, and for traditional medicines. Our initial outreach efforts are taking place in the Eastern Ghats – a biologically diverse region in India where snakes are often victims of indiscriminate killing.
Murthy Kantimahanthi of the Eastern Ghats Wildlife Society is leading the India Program for STS. By engaging directly with communities where wildlife conflicts are prevalent, Murthy is helping rural villages gain the expertise they need to mitigate conflict with snakes. Locals interested in getting more involved receive specialized training to help monitor wildlife, deploy intervention strategies, and become educators within their own communities.
Here in the US, Save The Snakes is ramping up to launch its Break for Snakes campaign. With over one billion cars on our roads, vehicles have a major impact on wildlife. Reptiles are particularly vulnerable, using roadways to warm themselves after the sun has set.
Visit Save The Snakes to learn more about the organization and our initiatives.