Read the following passage and answer the questions.
Rajendran belongs to the hula tribe, one of India's oldest indigenous communities, who live along the north-eastern coast of the state of Tamil Nadu. They are known for their ancient and intimate knowledge of snakes, and their skills form an important but nearly invisible part of the healthcare system in India.
"Many people are scared of snakes," Rajendran said, "But we must remember that the snake is only interested in survival. If we move in agitation, the snake perceives a threat and can strike. If we stand still, however, it will often slither away." We were at the offices of the hula Snake Catchers Industrial Co-Operative Society, which was formed in 1978 in Vadanemmeli to capture snakes and extract their venom. Nearly 50,000 people die of snakebites each year in the country, and the only reliable treatment is the prompt administration of anti-venom. Six companies across India produce around 1.5 million vials of anti-venom annually, and most of it is derived from the venom extracted by the Indas.
Rajendran showed us a sunken sandpit enclosed by a low brick wall A high thatched roof protected the space from the sun. and a small raised platform in the centre of the pit had a simple blackboard with details of the snakes being held in the facility. This was the venom extraction site.
We aren't holding too many snakes right now," he said, pointing to the numerous rows of empty clay pots, neatly arranged outside the thatch structure. Each pot will be half-filled with sand before housing two snakes each, and the mouth of the pot will be carefully sealed with porous cotton cloth so that the snakes can't leave the pot but there is still enough air.
The co-operative has official licenses to hold about 800 snakes at a time. "We keep every snake for 21 days, and extract venom four times during that period," Rajendran said. The snakes are then released into the wild. A small mark on their belly scales prevents the same snake from being caught repeatedly. "The mark goes away after a few moultings."
Rajendran's confidence in handling snakes and his deep understanding of these creatures are derived from a childhood spent in the forests and scrublands of the region. Before he turned 10. he had seen hundreds of snakes being captured. The Imlas usually work in silence, even when they go into the forest with others. They instinctively know the significance of faint signs on the ground to either follow clues or dismiss them. However, they often find it hard to articulate the details of their understanding, even to people who study reptiles.
After the venom has been fully extracted from a snake, what happens to the snake?
Create a FREE account and get: