It’s a tale of tragic ironies.
A 21-year-old snake catcher in India died after attempting to kiss a cobra. He was admitted to a civic hospital with a venomous snakebite on his chest and succumbed to it three days later, the Times of India reported.
Somnath Mhatre (Smith Mhatre on Facebook) had reportedly rescued the snake from under a car in Navi Mumbai, about 16 miles outside Mumbai. And he tried to pull off a stunt but it backfired.
Mhatre’s Facebook profile is filled with photos of him pulling off many such stunts with snakes.
His death, however, has made the authorities more cautious. “Such stunts must be strictly banned, which is why we have urged the Thane circle of the forest department to issue guidelines,” Pawan Sharma of Resqink Association of Wildlife Welfare reportedly said.
Two other snake catchers died in the same area in the last five months. And 30 such deaths have been reported in the last 12 years.
A forest official from Navi Mumbai said, “Generally, we refer to Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, regarding protection and rescue of wild animals, which includes scheduled reptiles such as snakes. But if there is a growing, dangerous trend of performing stunts with snakes, rules can be formulated.”
Activists have now sought a ban on stunts after this incident. And have also called upon forest officials to take stringent action against those attempting them.