Save The Snakes works locally in India to solve two global problems: Snakes populations are decreasing and humans are seriously threatened by snakebite. Each year in India, over 46,000 people die from snakebite, which accounts for almost half of worldwide snakebite deaths. The World Health Organization classifies snakebite as a neglected tropical disease as few efforts exist to reduce snakebite in developing countries. Rural communities in the Eastern Ghats of India are primarily poor and lack access to appropriate medical care when a snakebite occurs. The current solution for mitigating this snakebite crisis is to indiscriminately kill snakes, including king cobras, which has contributed to the species decline. Currently king cobras are listed in Schedule II of the Indian Wildlife Act and as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This is a disaster for the environment as snakes serve an integral role in the ecosystem and control rodent populations, which spread disease to humans. Learn how Save The Snakes is working to mitigate this conflict between humans and snakes.
The rural communities in India are primarily poor with marginal economies and low literacy rates. Lack of knowledge and access to technology leads to indecisive actions in the event of a human-snake encounter. However, with a basic understanding of snake ecology and simple changes to daily routines, most snakebites could be prevented. In the Eastern Ghats, there have been no efforts by any other organization to work with these communities and to implement such conflict mitigation conservation efforts regarding venomous snakes. Secondly, there are very few organizations/research institutions that focus their efforts on data collection to further understand the ecology of king cobras in this region of India. Current studies and initiatives contribute to enhanced knowledge about the biology of the species, but do not address the conservation concerns that threaten king cobras in the Eastern Ghats of India.
Our community-based approach is unique in the area because we aim to mitigate immediate human-induced threats to snakes by working with all the stakeholders, while simultaneously collecting scientific data to identify, as well as prioritize, critical habitats for species conservation and conflict mitigation priorities. Therefore, by devising and implementing community initiatives and education strategies, we can discover solutions that are mutually beneficial to both human and snakes. The long-term goal is that Save The Snakes programs in the Eastern Ghats can be replicated for implementation in other parts of the world where snakes are threatened with extinction in part due to existing conflict with humans.