INDIAN ‘SNAKE MAN’ LOVES THE WORLD’S DEADLIEST SNAKES
Our natural reaction on spotting a snake is to scream out of fear and run as far away as possible from the poisonous creature. There are some people who aren’t as scared of snakes, but Vava Suresh, a 40-year old wildlife conservationist, absolutely loves snakes and not only enjoys their company, but also adores them as a friend. He has no problem hanging some of the largest snakes around his neck like an ornament, or even holding the King Cobra like a child.
His unique talent with snakes has earned him the title of ‘Snake Man’. People from all over the State of Kerala call for him when they want a snake safely removed from their homes. In fact, the name “snake whisperer” would be best suited to describe Suresh as he has already rescued over 30,000 snakes in his lifetime. His life’s mission is to love and guard even the most venomous of these slithery creatures.
Suresh was born in a poor family in the city of Thiruvananthapuram. He has a completely different perspective about snakes than normal human beings. He sees them as gentle, loving creatures who should be handled with kindness and protected from human aggression. Suresh said “I actually do not know how I fell in love with them. As a child, I had seen people brutally killing snakes. That instilled sympathy for the creature in my mind. At the same time, idols of serpents in temples made me feel that they have some divinity and should be protected.”
40-year-old wildlife conservationist Vava Suresh has a way with snakes. His life’s mission is to ‘love and guard’ even the most venomous of slithery creatures – he’s already rescued over 30,000 snakes so far. His unique talent and hobby have earned him the nickname ‘Snake Man’; people all over the South Indian state of Kerala summon his expert services when they want a snake safely removed from their homes.
Suresh, who was born into a poor family in the city of Thiruvananthapuram, has a completely different perception of snakes than most people. He says that they’re gentle, lovable creatures that need kindness and protection from humans. “Snakes are a part of my life since childhood,” he said.
“I actually do not know how I fell in love with them. As a child, I had seen people brutally killing snakes. That instilled sympathy for the creature in my mind. At the same time, idols of serpents in temples made me feel that they have some divinity and should be protected.”
Suresh rescued his first live snake when he was only 12 years old. It was a baby cobra; he hid it in his house and carefully studied its behavior. Slowly, he began to understand how to handle snakes without injuring them or himself. Today, his rescue-list includes 12 King cobras, 7,000 Indian cobras, 1,600 to 1,700 vipers and 150 kraits. He doesn’t have any special tools for the dangerous job, he manages to get the job done with his bare hands.
His cell phone rings constantly; every time there’s a snake sighting, people call him for help. Even the local police and fire department sometimes use his services to trap the reptiles without causing them any harm. “Many of them get my phone number from police stations or from fire force units,” he said. “Some local dailies also publish my mobile number for the people to contact me easily.”
Besides rescuing snakes from urban areas and releasing them into the wild, Suresh preserves snake eggs until they hatch. He also works hard to create awareness among people about snakes and their behavior.
His job is undoubtedly a risky one; one of his fingers was surgically removed after suffering a cobra bite. And in 2012, the skin on his right palm had to be grafted after another snake bite. Over all, Suresh has survived more than 266 venomous snake bites, and his body has now developed sufficient antibodies against snake venom.