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November 2018
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Preparing for Australia tour by watching videos: Shami        India invites Swedish companies to explore investment opportunities        Govt cancels ED officer Rajeshwar Singh's leave        175 dead, over 10,000 affected by Nigeria cholera outbreak        Lankan parties move SC against Parliament dissolution by Prez Sirisena        Delhi pollution: Task forces conducts meetings on WhatsApp for urgent decisions        PM slams Rahul, Sonia for questioning note ban; need no certificate from those on bail        70 per cent turnout in first phase of Chhattisgarh polls: EC        Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha attacks NDA ally Nitish Kumar amid reports of RLSP MLA joining JD(U)        Mining Baron Janardhana Reddy Remanded in Custody Till November 24 for 'Shielding' Ponzi Scam Accused Father-Son        Death toll hits 25 from wildfires at both ends of California        "Nationalism Betrayal Of Patriotism": Emmanuel Macron, Trump By His Side        3rd T20: Dhawan, Pant take Ind to victory, series win        FC Goa beat Kerala Blasters 3-1 in ISL        One killed, several injured in stabbing attack in Melbourne: Police        Journalists beware: After Bloomberg bots, AI news presenter debuts in China        Harmanpreet Kaur’s record century headlines India’s big win over NZ in opener        Mumbai City end NorthEast United’s unbeaten run        Chelsea beat BATE 1-0 in Europa League        Srikanth enters pre-quarterfinals of China Open        
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Kerala News
Malayali woman breaks gender stereotype to turn snake catcher
 
(Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 1, 2017): Watching a snake slither close by can be scary for many but not for 33-year old J R Raji for whom catching the reptiles is childs play. Be it a hissing Cobra or poisonous viper or deadly python, Raji is never in fear as she is known to handle them with aplomb.

Hailing from Nanniyode village in nearby Palode located at the foothills of Western Ghats, catching snakes is more of a social service for her. The woman, who grew up nurturing a passion to become a snake catcher, has rescued 119 snakes in the last nine months from various parts of Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts, breaking the gender stereotype in snake-catching. Cobras used to hiss ferociously, with their hoods spread and flicking their slippery tongue out, when she tries to catch them.

Many deadly pythons and poisonous vipers have even tried to bite her as she held them in her hands. However, all these have not stopped the homemaker from continuing as a snake-catcher. The woman, who took to snake-catching out of curiosity and a liking towards the reptile, has now become a saviour of serpents in the region which come out of its traditional habitat and stray into human settlements due to various reasons including climate change. She has come to provide solace to local people who get jittery after seeing a snake in their backyard or room as they can call her for immediate help any time.

Over 70 cobras, 11 vipers, seven pythons, a handful of kraits and other local varieties are among the serpents, which she rescued from human habitations and released into forest. A degree drop-out, Raji said said catching a king cobra, one of the most dangerous and venomous snake variety, is still a dream for her. "Ours is a forest fringe village and we have been seeing many types of snakes from early days. So I never had any fear of snake since my childhood," Raji told PTI.

"Instead, I was curious to touch it. That intense desire was the first urge to become a snake-catcher. Snake catching is more like a passion for me," the home-maker said after one of her missions during which she caught a viper. Except attending an one-day coaching class some time back, she does not have any professional training in snake catching. A mother of two school-going girls, Raji rides her scooter to each place from where she gets calls seeking help to remove snakes from their area.

Her husband accompanies her if she gets calls late at night, she said. After catching each snake, Raji pats it on its back, kisses its hood and puts it in tiny sacks or plastic containers with holes. If it is ferocious and venomous, she hands it over to the nearest Forest office and if non-poisonous, she releases it at a safe place as per direction of Forest department personnel. "I never ask for money to catch snakes.

If people offer some donation, I accept it and never bargain. If those seeking help are poor and elderly, I never accept money even if they offer," she said. A driver by profession, Raji drives a jeep and pick-up van to make both ends meet. Though she has rescued over 100 snakes risking life, the woman said she has never suffered a snake bite so far adding no snake was also hurt. "I consider snake-catching as a humble social service. It is helping people, risking life. I will continue it," a proud Raji added. (PTI)


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