Villagers Bring Hope Back to Corbett National Park, by Keith Waters

During my time here in Corbett the last few months I have witnessed the challenges of conservation in India and this region in particular, many incidents have happened which have saddened the heart and brought despair to me but yesterday an event of such magnitude occurred that I can once again see the light at the end of the tunnel for conservation in India.  India is not just home to the Tiger but to some of the most majestic animals that roam this earth each possessing a quality that stands them head and shoulders above the rest.

In this time of rising Man-animal conflict it is hard to see a way that these magnificent creatures will find a way to survive, it is surely only with local support and their respect of the wildlife that my grand children may visit here and experience what I have been privileged enough to.

Snakes have always held that ‘Fear” factor in man, just the mere mention of the word “Snake” can drive masses into panic, in India in particular there reputation as man Killers holds some truth to it with many thousands of people a year losing their lives to snake bites. It is therefore, understandable if the villagers here would first look to kill snakes out of self preservation.

However, yesterday when a snake entered a lady’s room and decided to rest there, no ones first thought was to kill the snake instead they reached for the phone in search of help to remove this snake so that it could carry on with its life in the jungle.  The snake in question was no ordinary snake either it was the King of Kings the King Cobra.  A snake so large and with such a fearsome reputation it would have been no surprise if the immediate reaction was to kill it out of self preservation.  Instead their reaction of reaching out for help to preserve this magnificent and rare snake is the first sign of conservation and a huge encouragement that the wildlife in this area will be saved.

Sanjay Chhimwal a renowned naturalist of the area stepped forward to rescue the King and although there was a lot of excitement and fear amongst the by standers, typified by many of them scurrying for safety atop the nearby roof, to look into their eyes was where the real hope lay, there was no malice no intention to kill this lost soul, only a fascination and awe of this hugely impressive King and all bar none gave it the respect it so richly deserves.

King cobra dhiklui

For me the most pleasing aspect of this whole episode was to see the amount of people who I had originally involved in the snake conservation project that I started last year.  Many of them like Hem Bahuguna, Khalidatt Kargetti, came from Ramnagar to lend their support, Sumantha Ghosh dropped everything to rush over and lend a hand, and looking around at the faces of people I now call friends it was easy to see that any of them if wouldn’t have hesitated in rescuing the snake.

When it finally freed from its confines to the nearby river the joyous hand and back slapping typified everyone’s wish to see the King back in the Wild where he belongs.

I can only hope that this sort of reaction will be long lasting and will lead to conservation of all species in the area because India without the Majestic and Mystifying Creatures that roam it is just another country and India so much more than that.

One Response to “Villagers Bring Hope Back to Corbett National Park, by Keith Waters”

  1. Sunith says:

    The credit for this change in mindset towards conservation should be shared by the conservators like u and Mr.Ghosh as well as the local community who was willing to accept this change.
    great job. Every once in a while you read about something that touches the heart and this incident u just mentioned is one of them.

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