Indian dies after trying to kiss cobra for selfie
An Indian snake catcher died after trying to kiss a newly caught cobra in Navi Mumbai, Belapur, India.
Times of India reported that Somnath Mhatre, 21, died on his third day at the hospital on Feb. 2 after the venomous asp hissed and bit his chest while he was snapping a selfie with it.
Mhatre’s Facebook page, which is under the pseudonym Smith Mhatre, is stockpiled with selfies of him bonding with serpents he had rescued in the past. “It is very unfortunate that a young life has ended so abruptly. His Facebook profile has several pictures of him playing with snakes and even kissing a cobra. Such stunts must be strictly banned, which is why we have urged the Thane circle of the forest department to issue guidelines,” Pawan Sharma of Resqink Association for the Wildlife Welfare told the news site.
Meanwhile, snake rescuer Raghunath Jadhav, a member of Snake Awareness Association, said, “A few years ago, forest officials used to issue ID cards for snake-catchers but it was stopped when cases of illegal wildlife activities connected to reptiles were reported. Snake rescuers, especially youngsters, must not do stunts or show off while handling snakes, as it can be fatal.”
There is a growing social media trend of snapping selfies with snakes in India. Two other snake catchers perished in a span of five months and 30 in the last 12 years.
As a result, wildlife activists and local officials are campaigning to implement stringent rules for “irresponsible” snake catchers attempting to perform “cool” stunts with snakes.
A forest official explained to Times of India, “Generally, we refer to Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, regarding protection and rescue of wild animals, which includes scheduled reptiles such as snakes. But if there is a growing, dangerous trend of performing stunts with snakes, rules can be formulated.” Gianna Francesca Catolico/rga
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