Viper wiper

 
Published: Friday 31 March 1995

-- Deforestation of mangroves in the coastal areas of West Bengal is wiping out a large variety of snakes. The results of the Zoological Survey of India's (ZSI) first ever field study of snake habitats have raised much concern.

The ZSI scientists have based their conclusions on the basis of repetitive field visits and conducting "availability studies". Villagers were asked when the reptiles were last sighted in their areas. The data shows a regular decline in the sightings.

"We are convinced that the drastic fall in the number of sightings is a reasonable indicator of a major fall in the snake population", says S K Taluqdar, a ZSI scientist. The researchers hold killings by humans and deforestation as equally responsible for the declining snake population. The report says that "unchecked recession of the Sundarbans mangroves" is a major factor behind this decline.

According to the report, all varieties of the cobra and vipers are perched on the edge of extinction in this part of the state. The report has recommended the establishment of several captive breeding centres as the only solution to the problem.

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