Society for Protecting Ophiofauna & Animal Rights
Snakes, being most misunderstood and feared non-human neighbour of us, has been being victim of reasonless killing. SPOAR successfully has been running awareness campaigns as well as community campaigns regarding the conservation of rural and urban wildlife. These campaigns largely took place in primary and higher secondary schools in Jalpaiguri town and adjacent areas. Amazing informative facts has been passed down and myths and fallacies have been busted in front of the future generation; students. An effort like these, being both humble and vigorous put an end to killing of snakes driven by fear. Our members have been available for attending rescue calls in and around Jalpaiguri for which many innocent lives have been saved. As an outcome of this continuous rescue release protocol, interesting information regarding distribution and species diversity of snakes have been revealed to us. SPAOR made the present time possible when people choose to press the call button over landing a blow upon a snake. Besides, several awareness programme also took place regarding the hunting of migratory and common water birds by the local peoples in the adjacent localities of wetland habitat.
Nature has its own way to mesmerize people of all kind, then it would be no matter of surprise that SPOAR has always been cherishing the beauty of nature and admiring it. It has been great to come by that the people of north Bengal to some extents, share equal enthusiasm in enjoying the beauty of nature, may be photography, film making or documentation. It is also evident that photography and film making lets one know and think more about the subject of it which in this case is nature and wildlife. A dedicated person when clicks his shutter to nature then, unknowing to himself/herself he/she is embraced by Mother Nature. In 2013, 2014 and 2015, along with ophiological workshop cum awareness programme “Living with Snakes” (go to Training & Workshop for details), a wildlife photography exhibition cum competition of international level was organized. Soft copies of photographs were collected through mailing throughout the world and later were printed out and framed in order to be exhibited. Overwhelming response was noted both the years, competitors worldwide showed us the everlasting beauty of nature and her components through their lenses.
Besides the photography exhibition, there was “sit and draw” competition for children. Their theme was “Cholo aanki poshu pakhi” and that too is related to drawing of wild animals. Children from different class showed their merit in depicting wild lives in their sense of colour. These programmes overall were of great success. Enthusiasm and interest of common folks towards nature and wildlife, something on which some hope can be put, were seen.
Seminars & Workshops on Human Snake conflict, Snake Identification, Snake bite management & myth busting, conducted in 2012, 13 & 14.
Snake rescue and rehabilitation training of forest dept. staffs throughout India is another addition to the credentials of SPOAR. The members of this organization are often contacted from different conserved forest regions throughout the region in order to train department staff. The duties of a forest guard is actually as extensive as it could get and often, they have to rescue wild animals including snakes from nearby localities. In these cases, danger is inevitable if he/she is lacking proper training and knowledge. Through these training programmes, SPOAR’s main motto was to boost up their knowledge both practically and theoretically. The training included theory sessions with help of power point presentation on local snakes and brief ideas about them and practical sessions emphasizing on rescuing techniques with proper equipments on live specimens. Till now SPOAR has executed ten training programmes successfully in Bandhavgarh National Park (2 times), Pench National Park(2 times), Chakrashila National Park, Lothian island in Sundarbans, Manas National Park (2 times), Chintamoni Kar Bird Sanctuary and Jaldapara National Park. The success of the training sessions is evident as there is a marked improvement in the rescue operatios executed by forest guards.
Restriction on loudspeaker & alcohol consumption at Murti picnic spot, adjoining the Gorumara reserve.
In 2016 SPOAR organized “Herpetologica 16”, an advanced technical national level workshop on herpetofauna (the reptiles and amphibians), of West Bengal – ‘The First of Its Kind’. The workshop had participants with interest and urge, hailing from all over the country. Murti riversides was used as the venue which, for its vicinity to Gorumara, Nagrakata, Khunia forest is a very good place for the field work session for the participants. The technical sessions such as power point presentations, lectures and documentary films took place in the seminar hall of Murti Tent Resort at the banks of the Murti River. World famous herpetologist Dr. Indraneil Das, renowned herpetologists Dr. Abhijit Das, Dr. Kaushik Deuti and Dr. Dalia Ghoshdastidar were present during the three days of the workshop. The theme extended from taxonomic and systematic discussion about reptiles and amphibians to the species diversity, habitat, breeding biology, key characters of identification etc. Dr. Kaushik Deuti who is very much renowned in the field of batrachology, enlightened the participants with lectures and presentations on frog taxonomy, herpetofaunal diversity of the forets of north Bengal and biology of the Himalayan newt (salamander). Dr. Indraneil Das and Dr. Abhijit Das gave lectures on reptiles, amphibians and their identification, survey methodology etc. Dr. Dalia Ghoshdastidar discussed on some of the current projects that she worked on in India and the USA. Technical sessions lasted all day long followed by amazing field sessions with experts at night. Pit fall and other survey techniques were demonstrated and taught by Dr. Abhijit Das in the field. Participants observed breeding behaviour and calls of different species of frogs as well. “Herpetologica 16” lasted for three days and was a grand success for SPOAR.
Since the human-wildlife conflict has been one of the major issues in case of safety of wildlife as well as victim peoples, nature and wildlife conservationist people have had to deal with this problem happening in rural, urban and forest areas. The Dooars forest region and even the town and village areas of north Bengal are now places where these conflicts are happening frequently. In order to ensure the safety of the local people from the wild animals and obviously vice versa, SPOAR is operating rescue-rehabilitation programmes all over rural and urban areas of north Bengal including forest areas. These rescue operations however, take place mostly in village and town areas far from forest and the rescued animals are snakes, monitor lizards, birds, small mammals and other sorts of urban wildlife. This organization provides 24 hour rescue service and when contacted, members rush to the spot wherever or whenever it may be. Members who execute the rescue operation are well experienced and always use proper snake friendly equipments such as hook, bagger etc. The rescued animals are checked thoroughly in case if there are injuries and noted in details in a data book. This data compilation process has revealed interesting facts about species diversity, domain area and travelled distance of the animals etc. These animals are always released near the place from where they have been rescued as they can find it difficult to cope up with the new environment if released somewhere else.
As Dooars forests is very good habitat to the majestic King cobra, there are cases where the members had to rescue a king cobra from someone’s home. Though not frequent like the Western Ghats, but encounter with king is happening once or twice each year which indicates that the habitats are decaying for these majestic animals and as placed among WLPA schedule-I, king cobras, Python encounter cases are always given utmost importance. These rescue operations are conducted in collaboration with forest dept. and they are rehabilitated in core areas of forests.
During the rescues, often the members came across wounded animals in which cases, proper treatment was required. SPOAR, in association with local vets and forest dept. has been executing successful treatment procedures and has been able to save many innocent lives. It is evident that the community animals suffering from injury has the need of proper treatment more than urban wildlife because the roadside where they live is a place to get quick injury by vehicular accident and all. Most common injuries and problems are open wounds, maggoty wounds, cuts, burns of electrocution, bone fracture and poisoning. Some of the uncommon problems for snakes like being stuck in a tight hole is also encountered. The members, when on a rescue operation, always carry antiseptic medicines as first aids and if injury or problem is not that serious, those medicines are applied and the animals are released to their natural habitat. The local vet surgeons have always been helpful and in spite of lacking proper infrastructure for treating distressed animals, SPOAR saved a lot of lives.