Film on Russell's Viper by CEC Member in India

31 July 2010 | News story

CEC member Samik Gupta focused his 24th wildlife film on the Russell's viper. Though it is blamed for a third of snakebite cases in India each year, the viper helps to protect more than 1 metric tonnes of crops annually by eating rats in the fields.

“This film is has been produced to communicate the message among the leaders and general public on the ecological importance and conservation significance of Russell’s viper,” says Samik Gupta, who conducted research and then produced the short film ‘The Sleepless Sentinels’. It is his 24th wildlife film since 1997.

The Russell’s Viper perhaps blamed for 35% snakebite cases in India each year. Paradoxically, the species is chiefly rat eater. it is assumed that sum 50,000 Russell’s viper protect more than 1 metric tones crops production each year by consuming proportionate field rats population (first growing rodent), without introducing any external poison. This is a calculative equation of mother nature; Russell’s viper directly contributes to the national GDP.

The reptile ranges throughout the oriental and pall iatric regions, more particularly in southeast Asia. The species inhabits in damply bushes under the bamboo planks or tree thickets around the crop fields. Unlike most snake species, the Russell’s viper is both nocturnal and diurnal. This feature may require more food. On the other hand, it is observed in 17 cases that the species having trend to venom its prey with single fangs by launching diagonal attack; while another folded fang keeps reserve for the immediate next. Thus, Russell’s viper would consider the highest rodent controller in India. The calculative assumption is that sum 50,000 Russell’s viper consumes 7 million field rats per year. The same rat population destroy more than 1 metric tones crop production each year approximately.

The crop it protects, at free of cost and labour. The farmers need not provide external poison to control those fast growing rodents. Usually the rodents give birth more than 50 off springs each year and young become reproductive within 10-12 weeks. Thus, Russell’s viper directly contributes to the national GDP and save us from food scarcity. On the other hand, man-viper conflict is a coupling problem, as the reptile inhabits around human areas. Venom and skin industry demand is adding sugar to it. This should be pondered and act right now, before it is too late!

Mr. Samik Gupta, Director General, Nature India Group and Project Director Wild India,
e-mail: wildindiapro@gmail.com