Kamal Devkota

Nepal Toxinology Association, Nepal

    Kamal Devkota currently works at the Nepal Toxinology Association. Kamal does research in Snake, Snakebite and Snake Conservation. Their current project is “Save Snakes Save Nature” in Rupandehi district, Nepal.

    Snake Conservation in Rupandehi District, Nepal  

    The study and research of snakes has always received less priority in Nepal. Traditional beliefs, misconceptions and superstitions followed by the local people have increased human-snake conflict in communities. The aim of the study was to provide most recent and more comprehensive information on diversity, distribution and habitats of snakes and to investigate peoples’ perceptions towards snakes, snakebite and snake conservation in Rupandehi district, Nepal. The study was carried out during June to September, 2015-2017. We categorized 16 different sites from the districts and conducted direct observation and opportunistic visual encounter survey methods into human residence in indoors and at outdoors; near to the bank of water bodies; piles of logs, rocks, concretes and culverts; agricultural lands, crop fields and farms; community forest, roadside and any other possible habitats in the selected sites during the day and night time to detect both diurnal and nocturnal species especially in summer and rainy seasons. We carried out face-to-face interview and extracted the attitude, knowledge and awareness of people on snakes with the help of pretested and semi-structured questionnaire using random sampling methods. We produced educational materials like brochures, posters, pamphlets, hoarding boards, photographs, books, videos and distributed to local people. Few collected snakes were preserved in 10% formalin for their appropriate identification. We recorded a total of 22 species belonging to 18 genera and six families (Typhlopidae, Pythonidae, Boidae, Colubridae, Elapidae and Viperidae). Among all recorded snakes, five species were deadly venomous (Naja naja, Naja kaouthia, Bungarus caeruleus, Bungarus fasciatus and Daboia russelli). We recorded snakes ranged from the smallest-bodied blind snake to the largest-bodied python. We found 41% snakes in the human residence outdoors, 19% in agricultural lands, crop fields and farms, 11% in indoor, 9% in roadside, 8% in community forest, 6% near to the bank of water bodies and 6% around concrete and rock crevices. Among the total snakes recorded, 57% were found dead and 43% were found alive. We found that majority of the respondents disliked snakes (80%) because of fear of being bitten whether it is venomous or non-venomous. About 76% people replied that they can distinguish venomous and non-venomous snakes and most of them were unable to identify and answered incorrectly. Spectacled cobra was the most common venomous snake that was identified by most of the respondents. Most of the snakebite victims applied tourniquetes and sought hospital providing anti-venom therapy but some of the people still depend on traditional healers and unaware of recommend first-aid methods and available treatments. More than 70% respondents replied that they were unknown about the traditional beliefs, misconceptions, superstitions and actual facts. Most of the respondents were aware of protective measures that prevent or minimize snakebite but didn’t practice it. There is a lack of knowledge on importance of conservation of snakes among local people. Therefore, more community based snake conservation educational and awareness programs should be conducted to minimize the human-snake conflict in communities which can make a long-lasting contribution in nature conservation.