Post Event Write up – Madras Clickers – Walk no:19 – Snake walk with Irulas

When I was going through the long list of threads in CTC google groups, I came across the event which was unique and exciting –  “ Snake walk with Irulas ”.  I couldn’t curb my excitement as I was always captivated by the topic SNAKES from my childhood.  I instantly pinged Allwyn (One of the organiser of the event) and enquired about the event and this was two weeks prior to the event and I was that excited not to miss a spot. Then did the registration and the instructions mail followed it .
On 19th February 2017, the members participating in the event gathered in front of Thiruvanmiyur MTRS station by 5 am. My pick up point was at O

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 toll gate. By 5.20 am I joined the group. We halted at Navalur for a small refreshing tea break. Then started our journey towards Mahabalipuram.

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On the way we had to pick up our Kingpin – Kaali anna and his team(
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he guide for our snake walk). Reached our destination little late than scheduled. Everyone were apprehensive because we were informed that the best time to catch a snake would be little early than we arrived. So we were very doubtful if we would be lucky to see a snake on that day. We started walking with the Irulas

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 The Irulas walked into the fields to find any snake while we were advised  to walk parallel on a steep wide platform from the fields. We were so lucky to find the first snake within 5 minutes of our walk. Kaali anna catched a small snake which was non venomous. We were so excited as many of us had a chance to catch a glimpse of a snake so close for the first time in our life.

Everyone instantly took their DSLR/ smartphone cameras to click the pictures  of it. Kaali anna briefly explained about the snake’s eating habits and its nature. While he was clarifying our doubts, in the blink of an eye the snake bit in his hands. We panicked, but he stroked the bitten area casually considering that it’s a non-venomous snake. We spent 10  minutes with the snake and rushed further to see if we were lucky enough to find more.
After a long walk for around 30 minutes we halted at a shady place while the Irulas were busy finding a snake for us in the dense bushes on the green fields of paddy. During the time the group had so many interactions and shared most of their trekking/ walk experiences with the newbies . We were fortunate to have so many healthy conversations and discussions about so many topics . As the time passed by we were hopeless to find another snake
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but then we saw Kaali anna hooting at us with a lengthy rope like thick braided wire. When he came closer we identified it was an Indian cobra by its hood mark.  Trembling in fear we distanced ourselves as it was considered highly venomous.

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Without any forethought everyone started clicking pictures. And we attempted to click selfies from a very distant point. Kaali anna explained us the whole theory about the Indian cobra and was patient enough to do that simultaneously while he handled the snake graciously . After a while he let the snake on the ground for us to click the perfect pose of an 

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 Cobra. The cobra stood majestically while we surrounded it to click his beauty of elegance ( BTW it was a male cobra) . While we were pondering over why the snake hissed so loudly , we informed that the snake was very furious and is ready to attack anyone who confronted it so closely.  While the snake posed us royally on the ground, the group cleared all the myths and notions we had about snakes from our childhood with the Irulas. After 20 minutes of live encounter and interaction with the snake, it was carefully put inside a bag to be later taken to the crocodile bank for venom extraction.

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Then after 10 minutes of discussion we thought of winding up the walk as we presumed that no more snakes can be found.
So we stood around in a circle and commenced our introduction session. As my turn came, after 5 people there came a loud voice calling the group. We ceased the intro session and stormed into the direction of the voice.  To everyone’s surprise, we found a Russel Viper in the hands of Kaali anna . He cautioned us to distance a lot as the Russel viper has a tendency to plunge on the prey. He made the snake move on the ground to show us a series of S-loops which it exhibited when threatened . He was warning us continuously to stay a little far from him as the snake was highly poisonous and has the tendency to attack swiftly. After brief explanation he showed us the teeth of the snake by widely opening its mouth, but refused to touch the teeth with a stick as the venom might cause a serious threat if comes in contact with the skin. The members clicked the rare sight of the Russel viper’s wide open mouth in excitement and inquisitively posed so many questions to Kaali anna.
After which the snake was carefully sacked inside the bag and was taken away . The members were more than gratified after 3 hours of walk. Everyone considered themselves lucky to see such a instance of Russel Viper and Indian cobra in the same walk. As we walked towards the starting point Kaali anna showed his right hand index  finger which had a slight bend due to a venomous snake bite. After the mandatory group picture we walked towards the start point .
Tedious walk was followed by a brief relaxation and we headed to A2B for our morning breakfast . Then bid adieu to the members and we started our journey towards Chennai.
In short this walk was an enthralling and informative for all of us. It would be a great fault of mine if I don’t mention the group members support and their involvement in exchanging knowledge about various topics and subjects spoken during the walk. And my first praise are always for the organisers for giving us an opportunity to explore a different part of nature.  It was totally worth sacrificing morning sleep on a Sunday to experience such a gratifying and fun filled walk with the members who were full of pep and chirpy.
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y — Sri Lakshmi

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