Biodiversity Nepal
For the Future Generation

Famed by Snake: Lurey to Rohit

'Everyone used to say lure-lure from childhood. But, gradually, the number of people who call me Rohit is increasing, 'he said laughing.

Rohit Giri, 21, of Pokhara-17, Chhorepatan, is known as ‘Lure’ by many. His name on Instagram is ‘Lurey Rohit‘. ‘Everyone used to say lure-lure from childhood. I am more active on Instagram. That’s why many people know Lure on Instagram. But, gradually, the number of people who call him Rohit is increasing, ‘he said laughing.

Green Pit Viper (Venomous Snake) Photo by Rohit Giri

What happened to the name Lurey? For many people, he does something unimaginable. He is still busy rescuing snakes every day. However, he has been fascinated with snake conservation since childhood. At the age of 12, Hareu (Green Pit Viper) came to his aunt’s house. Knowing this, he went to see. After observing and cross-examining the snake, he grabbed the tail of the snake. He took it out of the place with a stick. He even played with the snake. “I thought they would not bite”. That’s how he was attracted to crawling creatures. “Gradually, I started reading about snakes in the resources available in the library.”.  This made him more interested in snakes. Gradually, he became engrossed in the study and handling of snakes. He is currently an undergraduate student in Biology under the Faculty of Science at Prithvi Narayan Campus, Pokhara.

By the time this material was ready, he had rescued 100 snakes in Nepal during the lockdown. Snakes have been rescued by reaching different places of Pokhara, Dhampus, Lekhnath, and other areas. Rohit said that 10 species of snakes were rescued during this time. Among them are King Cobra, Green Pit Viper, Monocellate Cobra are the venomous snakes. Similarly, he also rescued Rat Snake, Trinket Snake, and the Wolf Snakes, whose bites are less harmful to humans. In Pokhara, Black Krait and another black krait with white stripes are found.

Monocellate Cobra (Highly Venomous) Photo by Rohit Giri

His, Brother Roshan Giri also helps him to rescue the snake. “My brother also helps me catch snakes,” said Rohit. His brother is 20 years old, studying in class 12. They do not charge a fee for snake rescue work. They don’t even get funded from anywhere. “On notice, I do rescue for free”, he said. Celebrity snake rescuer does photography to cover his pocket money. He said that he is generating funds by taking photos of events, wedding photography, and videography.

Rohit has so far rescued more than 500 snakes. Rescue intensity has been increasing in recent days. This is happening due to his work, activism, and attachment to snakes. Now when they see a snake around Pokhara, people call him. He does not neglect, he immediately reaches the place where he was called from. “I go to Pokhara’s market and surrounding villages to rescue snakes, sometimes to neighboring districts,” he said.

Black Krait (Highly Venomous) Photo by Rohit Giri

Can snakes be easily caught? 

Catching snakes is not an easy task, it is risky. Some snakes are so venomous that they can kill the person bitten. He says that not only rescuing snakes but also doing everything with snakes will always be challenging. Common Venomous snakes found around Pokhara are Raj Goman (King Cobra), Monocellate Cobra, Pit Vipers, and Kraits. When rescuing a snake, the location and location of the snake will determine the risk, he said. He has the experience that it would be easier to rescue in the open. Most snakes are found in hard to reach places, making it difficult to rescue. He said that one should always be vigilant as there is always a threat of death in rescuing a venomous snake.

Did he face any challenge? 

King Cobra (Highly Venomous) Photo by Rohit Giri

Rohit tells a story “We went to rescue Ulleri on the border of Syangja and Kaski four years ago. King Cobra came there. People sent photos from there. My brother and I went to rescue the snake.  Snake in the photo was giant King Cobra. The locals have already done various things to drive King away. They threw stones and started a fire. That should not have been done. It seemed as if they would kill the snake if we were not there to rescue. I thought of catching the king for rescue without rescuing equipment. When I approached, the snake raised the hood. Scared I ran to the nearby field. Later on, after some time the snake was then finally caught. In fact, the snake had already been irritated and it responded. Another thing for me, it  was my  new experience of catching a King Cobra.” He urges, on the encounter of a snake, report it to a rescuer.

Now, Rohit has started getting calls for rescue of two or three snakes in one day. He takes the rescued snake to a place where it is safe for humans and also safe for snakes. They have been released around a kilometer away from the spotted location. ‘When you take it far away, there are other snakes already, you have to fight with them in that place. Snakes in new habitats will have a hard time finding food and water, ‘he says, so I leave it in a safe place nearby.

Rohit Giri while rescuing rat snake. Photo source: Rohit’s Facebook page

He argues, in order to avoid the attack of snakes, one should be careful by knowing in which season the snakes come out. He says that before working around the house, one should look carefully at the lawn, take care while walking by bushes, plucking vegetables. “When going to the forest at night, one should wear long boots, not litter around the house and take care of the pile of firewood. ‘In fact, snakes come to eat mice. If there are holes to enter the house, it should be blocked”, Rohit gave tips.

According to him, a snake never attacks as soon as it sees humans. Bites may happen when a snake feels threatened. He says that if he does not catch the snake, he will easily find his way. The age of the snake varies with the species of snake. He said that due to the rescue, the number of people dying from snakebite has decreased. Likewise due to the increasing trend of rescue snakes are moved to safe places. This has been made possible by the awareness of the general public, the active role of activists involved in snake conservation.

Rat Snake (Undefined Toxicity) Photo by Rohit Giri

Rohit’s goal is to learn more about snakes after thorough studies. He wants to do something for snakes, save snakes, and if possible, open a center to provide information about snakes. He wants to inform people about, ‘Why not to kill snakes?’.

Wolf Snake (Undefined Toxicity) Photo by Rohit Giri

At first, he started catching snakes, which created an atmosphere of fear in the family. But now, his family is supportive, he is even more excited.

Snakes are of many benefits 

Antivenom is made from snake venom. Snakes are a great help to the ecosystem. There are other creatures that eat snakes. Moreover, the snake is a close friend of the farmer. Eating rats prevents the effects of rats and the spread of disease. Various other medicines are also made using snake venom.

How to catch a snake? 

You also need strength to catch a snake. It depends on the species of snake. Hooks are used to holding snakes. You need to know where to lift and where to hold. Many things also depend on snakes, some snakes move fast and may even attack to bite. The techniques are complex and intertwined. For that, you need to know the behavior of snakes. Before being caught, information is obtained by understanding what group they belong to. Rohit gets information by self-study. He refers to scientific paper and other online resources. General information is also known from the course taught in school.

Rohit Giri taking a photograph of Trinket Snake (Undefined Toxicity). Photo source: Rohit’s Facebook page

There are not many snake rescuers in Nepal. Snake Conservation Society Nepal is actively involved in the rescue of snakes. Among them are rescuers from 10 districts of Nepal. Society is chaired by Mahendra Prasad Katila. In Kaski, Mahendra Prasad Katila, Ramji Gautam, Rishi Baral, Rohit Giri, Keshav Raj Sapkota, and Roshan Giri are active in snake rescue works. Similarly, Prithvi Narayan Sharma in Syangja, Prahlad Karki Munna in Jhapa, Prem Bista in Morang, Yam Rawat in Kanchanpur, Kamal Devkota and Prakash Gyawali in Rupandehi, Anirudra Sapkota, Sunil Sapkota, Yamlal Bhandari, Puskal Nepal and Prem Lama in Chitwan, Amod Ghimire in Nawalparasi, Vasant Subedi and Chiranjivi Khanal in Dang and Abhash Pradhan in Sarlahi are taking over rescue works in respective locality.

According to a study, there are 3789 snake species in the world. Of these, around 600 species are life taking venomous. There are more than 91 species of snakes reported from Nepal. In which 22 species of snakes are Highly venomous. Generally, the taxonomic family of snakes determines the character of snake species. Snakes from 10 families exist in Nepal.

With edits and addition in an article published in the Nepali Language in Saptahik (Written by Rajaram Poudel).

Writer/Translator Sunil Sapkota is a pioneer dedicated snake rescuer at Chitwan. He is the founder president at Raise Hands Nepal and runs Smile for Snakes campaign.

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