The rural communities in India are mostly poor with marginal economies and without proper literacy. Lack of knowledge and access to technology makes them vulnerable to indecisive actions in the event of a human-snake encounter. Appropriate capacity building measures can result in a behavior change which is mutually beneficial to both human and snakes. Therefore, a win-win situation could be achieved by devising and implementing appropriate intervention strategies.
There have been no related efforts by any other organization in this direction so far. There are very few organizations/research institutes in the region which have been focusing their efforts on research data collection to understand the ecology of the species. Such studies and initiatives have no direct conservation implication other than just contributing to enhance knowledge on the biology of a species. Our problem-based approach is unique in the area because of the fact that we aim to mitigate immediate human-induced threats to species by working with all the stakeholders while simultaneously collecting scientific data to identify as well as prioritize critical habitats for conservation.
The entire project will be implemented in rural locations close to wilderness areas where there is a high incidence of human-snake encounters and the species diversity is also rich. Local communities are the main stakeholders in the project. The Save The Snakes Team is native to this region and therefore can leverage local knowledge of wildlife in the region, relationships with community stakeholders, and cultural proficiency to support the successful implementation of the project activities. We collect qualitative and quantitative data using locally trained citizen scientists and collate this data on species occurrence and prevailing threats in order to devise conservation measures for the species at a landscape level perspective.
The project envisages reducing negative interactions between humans and snakes by implementing mitigation strategies which could eventually lead to peaceful coexistence. Furthermore, it also aims at transforming few identified local people in each identified problem site across the region into “para-ecologists” who could continue the conservation activities in their respective villages irrespective of the project period or expiry. We wish to accomplish this by tapping their indigenous local knowledge of wildlife and properly training them in snake handling, rescue and field surveys to assess species distribution.
Save The Snakes is a Community-based Conservation Effort
Objective 1: Capacity building of local communities – We will accomplish by organizing awareness workshops, social media campaigning and community outreach programs highlighting on aspects such as the ecological importance of snakes, identification of venomous snake species, first aid and treatment in the event of a snake bite, precautionary measures to avoid snake bites.
Objective 2: Mitigation of human-snake conflict: Coupled with education and awareness programs, we also propose to implement site-specific mitigation measures which could minimize negative interactions with snakes. These can be as simple as wearing proper footwear at night, using mosquito nets while sleeping on the floor, small changes in land use management removal of bushes and garbage that might otherwise provide shelter to snakes etc.
Objective 3: Community-based conservation of snakes: Training identified local youth in rescue and rehabilitation of snakes and first aid techniques in the event of a snake bite. These “rescue teams” will also act like a liaison between local communities and wildlife authorities through regular communication on incidence of snake bites. Few of them may also be trained as field assistants to keep a record of different snake species that are found in the area.
Objective 4: Foster support for snake conservation: Using print/electronic media and social media platforms, we aim to publicize the project to convey the conservation message to public at large on the importance of snake conservation.
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