A 12-feet long King Cobra was laid on the table,it tried to slither out of the grip of a dozen hands holding it,but slowly its owner pushed it inside a transparent tube. Its scales were counted,and once it relaxed,it was injected with a micro-chip of the size of a grain of rice.
The reader placed against the snakes skin flashed a number the snake now had an identity.
The Delhi government on Monday,along with the WWF,carried out a unique project of providing micro-chips to snakes owned by snake charmers.
In 2003,after an amendment of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972,the government had asked residents to declare animals or articles made out of wild animals in their possession. Only 10 snake charmers had come forward to declare 44 snakes at the time. According to estimates,there are at least 2,000-odd snake charmers in Delhi.
An owners certificate was issued to them. Though the snake charmers had declared to the government,identification was a problem. With micro-chipping of snakes,each one can be identified by a unique number. This is our way of controlling the number of snakes they possess, said Dharmender,Secretary-Environment.
Also at the time of micro-chipping all morphological details of snakes were recorded,including weight,length and scale count. This will help the wildlife officials monitor the health of the snakes.
The health of most of the snakes was not found to be good. They are fed wrongly and dont get any exercise. Most of these snakes in captivity have lost their original characteristics. So we want to ensure that more snakes are not kept in such a terrible condition, said a senior official.
Out of the 44 snakes,there is one python which comes under Schedule 1 of Wildlife Protection Act,1972. The others include King Cobra,Cobra,Red Snake and Sand Boas.
The government has spent Rs 1,000 per snake for the micro-chipping. WWF Goa-state director Nitin Sawant,who has been researching snakes for the past 15 years,carried out the exercise.
We make sure that the micro-chip is inserted in the sub-cutaneous level,somewhere in mid-body of the snake. The micro-chip remains embedded in its body without doing any harm, Sawant said.
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