In the Eastern Ghats of India, Save The Snakes works to reduce conflicts between humans and snakes by implementing mitigation strategies which will lead to peaceful coexistence. Furthermore, we aim to transform local community members in each identified priority conflict site into “para-ecologists” that continue our conservation activities in their respective villages irrespective of the project period or expiry. We utilize their indigenous local knowledge of wildlife and properly train them to handle, rescue and release snakes that are found in villages across the Eastern Ghats. These individuals are also able assist in field surveys to assess species distribution and contribute to snake conservation efforts in India.

Semi-structured interviews in villages to understand the conflict and snake species distribution

Save The Snakes is a Community-based Conservation Effort

Objective 1 – Capacity building of local communities
We accomplish this action by organizing awareness workshops, social media campaigns and community outreach programs in identified villages within in the Eastern Ghats of India. These programs began in September 2016 and teach community members of the ecological importance of snakes, identification of venomous vs non-venomous snake species, precautionary measures to avoid snakebites, and first aid and treatment in the event of a snakebite. Within two years we will create a “snake school” and field research station that will serve as the base of our snake conservation activities in the Eastern Ghats. This place will also be a physical space where community members can learn about snake ecology and conservation, gain skills in snakebite first aid and treatment and be given access to a computer and book library. Within three years we will create a women’s cooperative, where women can make mosquito nets for the community and make gifts to be sold in USA and European markets that will provide income for their families. In rural India, most villagers sleep on the ground and leave their doors/windows open to regulate the temperature inside of their homes. Mosquito nets reduce disease transmission spread by insects as well as reduce encounters with snakes that enter people’s homes at night. Within five years, we will establish an organic coffee and tea farming cooperative that will provide a long-term economic livelihood for community members. Coffee and tea plantations attract rodents that then attract snakes, which creates a direct conflict with people. By establishing a community-based farming cooperative using snake-friendly practices, we aim to create a model for other farms around the world to reduce conflicts with snakes in rural farming communities.

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 include the following efforts: wearing proper footwear at night, using mosquito nets while sleeping, carrying a light while walking at night to avoid stepping on snakes, and promoting simple changes in land use management, such as removal of bushes and garbage that might provide shelter to snakes. We have identified potential corporate sponsors who can provide donated footwear and lights to support this objective.

Objective 3 – Community-based conservation of snakes
We will train identified local individuals in rescue and rehabilitation of snakes and first aid techniques in the event of a snake bite. These “rescue teams” will also act as liaisons between local communities and wildlife authorities through regular communication on incidence of snake bites. Some individuals will also be trained as field assistants to collect data and keep a record of snake species 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 the public at large on the importance of snake conservation and habitat preservation.

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