Complaint filed with AWB against Snake Shyam for animal cruelty

Mysuru: Celebrity snake rescuer and corporator from Mysore, Snake Shyam, has been accused of cruelty towards animals.  A complaint has been made against him to the state forest department and Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI). 

Snake shyamHis offence? An obsession with live snake shows on television and schools subjecting the reptiles, protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act (IWPA), to extreme shock and stress, while they are supposed to be released in conducive habitat immediately after a rescue.The complainaints claim that twenty-one species of snakes like cobra and rat snake displayed by Shyam at various forums are listed in schedule II of IWPA. The Complaint also says that these actions of Snake Shyam aka M S Balasubramaniam amount to illegal confinement, transportation and display.

"The consequences of using live snakes in school and TV shows are well known to Snake Shyam. Despite this, he goes around doing just that. While we appreciate the conservation efforts of the popular snake catcher, we have chronically failed to communicate to him the blunder he commits each time he is on electronic media displaying live snakes, and the wrong message it gives out to the innocent and ignorant public," the complaint states. 

"To rescue and release snakes in a conducive habitat is an important aspect of wildlife conservation. Displacement of a rescued animal is a sensitive issue and could have serious implications on the rescued animal. In this case, they are stocked in improper housing, transported unscientifically and exposed to heavy lights in studios causing them a lot of stress. So are school exhibitions. Reptiles are extremely prone to stress. These acts cause extreme stress and shock that could even kill them," says honorary wildlife warden Sharath R Babu.

"The issue had come to our notice even in the past and we had asked him to release rescued animals in conducive habitats immediately after their rescue. It is not right to exhibit animals in TV shows or schools. However, we will issue a notice again asking him not to conduct such shows with animals as live exhibits," V Karikala, DCF, Mysuru told  the Bangalore Mirror.

However Snake Shyam has a different view. "I have been rescuing snakes since 1980. Because of my awareness programmes, many snakes are being spared. Because of the awareness I have been creating, even children think of rescuing snakes instead of killing them. That’s the change I have brought in. I could even create awareness with pictures. If I do so, those spotting snakes can’t distinguish between. I’m not doing any business out of this. I’m not making money out of it. I’m only trying to create awareness and educate people with live snakes. I later release them in their habitat as ordered by the former CCF. If my service is a problem to anybody, then I will stop," he said.


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