‘You ought to be really tough to save snakes.’
A member of the ‘Friends of Snakes Society’ might smilingly tell you otherwise.
For, to feel for a cowering being, cornered into a tiny crevice and outnumbered manifold (as might sometimes be in a typical rescue situation) – that’s more along the lines of a sensitive heart.
So what if the ‘cowering being’ is a snake-a species that’s held in utmost fear (thanks to centuries of reinforcement), despised even, and tops the list of ‘Definitely don’t want to cross paths with?’
We’d still request you to hold back the fireworks.
Coz, albeit unseeming (going by the hiss, the raised hood, or a defensive posture as may be the case), snakes are just hapless beings, probably more shy of human interference, and bearing the brunt of skewed misconceptions and being ill quoted, since time can tell.
The Friends of Snakes Society (FOSS) is an NGO, founded by Late Sri Raj Kumar Kanuri in 1995 to conserve snakes, and in doing so, standing up for these limbless beings.
What started out as a fledgling (or should we say snakeling?) attempt with a close knit circle of just about 4-5 friends in a makeshift garage, has today branched out to span over the state of Telangana, with hotspots in Hyderabad, RangaReddy, Karimnagar, Adilabad, and Medak.
Founded with the core objectives of rescuing & relocating snakes, mitigating snake bites, creating awareness, and actively engaging in Herp research and Behavioral studies, we’ve come a long way – thanks to our current relentless base of 150 members, and growing!
Testimony to our remarkable feats is our equally impressive stats. For instance, we rescued and successfully relocated close to 3500 snakes in the last year, and reached out to about 1 Lakh people through our awareness sessions in some 250 locations, including schools, housing communities, and MNCs, to name a few.
Needless to say, we have carved out a niche for ourselves in active conservation and work hand in glove with the Forest Department to curb poaching, recording wild life census, and other wild life relief related activities.
Our rescue activities have grown to encompass the treatment of tottering birds injured by the synthetic ‘Chinese Manja’ during the kite flying season and other wild life as well over the years.
We have earnt ourselves bragging rights in this regard, by rescuing around 100 non-snake species such as Peafowl, Tortoises, Kites, Monitor Lizards etc. in the year 2016 alone.
Our most salient breakthroughs in the recent years was to publish a paper on the Indian Egg Eater- A very rare snake species, conducting research on the Stout Sand Snake – another golden find, being granted blanket permissions by the state govt. to carry out our operations across the entire state, and recording the birthing of a two headed Russell’s Viper, caused by a very unusual genetic anomaly, that made it to the papers.
Furthermore, we play a key role in the rescue of exploited and emaciated Cobras from snake charmers during the Indian festival of Nagapanchami, owing to the umpteen exaggerated and falsely circulated myths surrounding these snakes, making them target to some very inhuman treatment.
We are presently looking at expanding our operations across the entire state of Telangana and having our very own state of the art Reptile Park which will be a first of its kind in the state, in the next 5 years. And going by the leaps and bounds by which we have progressed and the milestones we have achieved in the recent years, we are definitely on the path to realizing our collective dreams.
Not at all surprising, considering the endearing zeal with which each one of our members share and work towards our common ethos.
Whether it be scaling heights in the pursuit of a dangling bird, slushing in some one’s underground tank to rescue an astray Pond Terrapin, meticulously working on a Rat Snake trapped in fresh tar, or bathing and force feeding an emaciated Cobra……our members have risen up to every ambiguous situation, thereby leaving no stone unturned, in our efforts for overall conservation.
An extended family comprising of people from all walks of life, we tackle cleaning animal poop and receiving prestigious awards such as the Title of ‘Jeeva Yvidhya Rakshak’ by the State Biodiversity Board, and a Letter of Appreciation from the US Consulate, with equal panache.
One can catch us in action between 1 PM to 5 PM on Sundays at the Nehru Zoological Park where our members conduct awareness sessions to the masses, or simply drop by our facility for a visit and to befriend some beautiful beings. In case of spotting any ‘unexpected visitors’ at your premises, you can give us a call on our rescue helpline number 8374233366 and be rest assured of having one of our members over in no time ( In this, giving Pizza delivery a run for their money, as one of our members jokingly remarks).
For more, such as a detailed presentation on the identification of the commonly found snakes in India, the Big Four venomous snakes, first aid measures in the event of a venomous snake bite etc., you can reach out to our Awareness Coordinator at 8374233377.
Easy comradery, strong kinship, an undying passion for conservation….the Friends Of Snakes Society is one love, that’s for here to last. For, in living up to our spirit of ‘We Save. We Serve’, we do much more – We ROCK!!! 🙂