The snake man of Bihar, who saves the snake and also the villagers, the story of Buxar’s first rescue center

At the age when people are preparing to join the army or are dreaming of going to college, Hari Om is in love with snakes. 18-year-old Hariom has been working to catch snakes for the last 6 years. So far, he has done two hands each with many cobras and pythons. Hariom has so far caught 3 thousand snakes of 15 different species. He worked in Discovery Channel and with the money earned from there, he opened a rescue center for snakes and other animals in Churawanpur village of Buxar district.

Nature Wildlife Care Rescue The center named Center is the first rescue center in Bihar. But the villagers had some problem with it. cause of problem? Too many snakes in one place. Within four months of opening the center, some people burnt it, in which 14 snakes died. Medicines worth Rs 3 lakh were burnt to ashes. But Hariom was not going to give up. He started from scratch again and rebuilt his dream three months back.

In rural India, where snake bites are common, Hariom’s passion is one to watch.

He says, ‘I want to be known as the Snake Man of India. I want to find a permanent solution to this conflict between the villagers and the snakes.

Bihar is the state in India where snake bites cause the third highest number of deaths – about 4,500 deaths every year. In such a situation, the villagers try to kill the snake first to avoid it. This is their solution. That is why fear and superstition about snakes has spread in the rural areas. Hariom’s mission is not only to save and take care of his favorite animal, but also to break the superstition and change the public attitude towards snakes in the society.

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When he is not working to save snakes, he works to break the age-old prejudices and superstitions against snakes. He travels from village to village with enthusiasm, telling people about the difference between venomous and non-venomous snakes. Gives information that can save the lives of both humans and snakes.

Hariom saves snakes with his hands, he does not use any stick. photo by special arrangement

Call Hari Om when you see a snake

Every day Hariom receives at least 10-15 rescue calls, mostly between 4 am and 8 am. But this happens only when the villagers have not already killed the snake, in 95 percent of the cases, the villagers kill the snake. Hariom explains that most snakes are found which are not poisonous. One snake is Dhaman which is found a lot, it is also known as rat-eating snake. Although Hariom has also rescued cobra and common krait, whose venom can be very deadly.

Hariom says that he catches snakes using a plastic box and a stick, in some cases he uses only his hand. He says, ‘I am not afraid. A month ago I had rescued a cobra. Later he bit me, I was treated in the hospital for 12 hours. The next day, I went to the rescue again.

Whenever Hariom rescues the snake, people gather around. It is also a source of entertainment for them. photo by special arrangement

Although Hariom does not get good money from this work. He gets between Rs 300 to Rs 500 for every rescue call. Often, they cover long distances for this, which means the cost of petrol. He says, “I do not get any benefit from saving snakes. I do it because of my love for snakes and because I want to do something for my people.’

Last year, he got a chance to work with the team of Discovery Channel in Siliguri, West Bengal for about 15 days. There he decided to open a rescue center and a similar center in his village as well. He said, ‘I started the center with the money I got from Discovery Channel.’

fight with snakes

In India, 94 percent of snake bites occur in rural areas, while 77 percent of deaths occur before reaching hospitals. This is revealed by the data of the National Mortality Study for the year 2020.

In villages where the administration has little or no access to timely anti-venom and proper treatment, villagers turn to exorcists, faith healers and quacks, who provide ‘magical’ cures . Traditional healers are known to bathe the victim or apply ghee to the bite wound. In some parts of Maharashtra, it is common to feed snakebite victims with green chillies or a mixture of dry chilli powder, sugar and salt.

Ramji Singh, a social worker from Bihar, says, “Most victims first go to a traditional healer for treatment. They opt for Jhad Phoonk (black magic and exorcism). Many of them lost their lives this way.

Hari Om recalls the recent incident in Brahmapur village of Buxar district in which an 11-year-old boy was bitten by a cobra around midnight. His parents took him to a traditional healer, which didn’t work and the boy died a few hours later. ‘I see such cases daily. Every month around 30-35,’ he says. I try to help as many people as possible but it is difficult to convince them. Some understand, but most follow old practices.

Hariom rescued nearly 3000 snakes till now from 15 species.
Hariom has so far rescued around 3000 snakes of 15 species. Photo by special arrangement.

He tries hard to send them to those hospitals where there is a better chance of survival. But it is difficult, and not just because of superstition. Rather, the cost of treatment also plays a big role.

Private hospitals can charge anywhere between Rs 30,000-35,000 for giving antidote and performing basic treatment. Hariom says, ‘From where will they get so much money? The people here live in mud houses. Also, private hospitals ask them to pay first.

And therefore, to avoid such incidents, killing snakes or going to traditional healers for treatment becomes the preferred option.

There was a time when villagers relied on the semi-nomadic Nat community, who were said to drive away snakes. ‘But we don’t see them anymore,’ says Ramji. It’s like they’ve disappeared from society.

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love instagram and youtube

Like other boys of his age, Hariom is also fond of social media. Hariom makes pictures and videos of the snakes he rescues. He edits them. Then upload on Instagram and YouTube. A few days back, he rescued a 20 kg python in Berhampur, after which he made some reels. He is not famous yet, but he wants to be an influential person.

Hariom wants to be known as India's snake men, He wants to study about them as well | By special arrangement
Hari Om wants to be known as the Snake Man of India. He wants to study about them too. by special arrangement

He uses Instagram to combat superstitions related to snakes and to provide information about the need for timely medical care, but he also uses a little drama and mystery to his reels. A video clip on his YouTube channel shows a brown-black cobra trapped in a corner of a room in a mud house. The next shot is of Hariom who is running towards home on a scooter.

When he encounters the snake, everyone is on high alert. People have gathered outside the hut, but neither Snake nor Hariom is paying attention to them. Both their eyes are fixed on each other. The cobra is waiting, ready to attack. Nothing but a plastic jar, Hariom comes to her. On seeing, he locks the snake in a plastic box.

When Hariom rescues a non-venomous snake, he releases it in fields or forests away from populated areas. But with cobras, kraits, and even pythons (though they have no venom), he has a special function. He takes them 10 km away from the village and makes sure to release them in the forest.

never ending passion

Hariom was passionate about creatures big and small since childhood. His uncle, who studied at IIT Madras, used to give him books on snakes.

His childhood friend Rohit, who is preparing to join the army, says, “We have grown up talking about becoming an officer, a doctor or a lawyer. But Hari Om had only snakes and animals in his mind. He used to keep animal books in his bag.

Initially, the villagers made fun of Hariom’s efforts. Rohit says, ‘People around us used to say that he should do some kind of work. But ever since he has started getting some recognition, things are changing.

Hariom’s family was also not involved in his plans. But after the opening of the rescue center, they have also started coming and going.

On 25 December 2021, Hariom opened the Nature Wildlife Care Rescue Center without the help of the administration. He had applied to the local authorities for the use of government land, but there was no response to his letter. He waited for months, circling from one officer to another. In the end, he took a 120×24 ft plot on lease for 10 years, for which he would have to pay Rs 50,000 per year.

In the center are goats, dogs and, of course, snakes. Lots and lots of snakes.

Hariom is thankful to the strangers whose kindness has kept his dream alive. Along with the local people of Gujarat, hospitals also used to send medicines to his center. Then tragedy struck in April. Hariom says, ‘People I knew burnt the center out of jealousy.’

‘Hariom told me, ‘my career is on fire’, says Rohit recalling old times

Hariom says that the people responsible for the arson came and apologized to him. After this he thought of rebuilding the centre. After several months and an additional cost of Rs 3 lakh, he finally got the center rebuilt.

Hariom says he wants peace between villagers and snakes, and claims he has developed a ‘snake repellant’, a chemical that will help keep snakes from entering people’s homes, he hopes. That the approval of the government will be obtained and then it will be sold in every medical shop. He says, ‘Hopefully then people will stop killing snakes.’

(Click here to read this feature in English)

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The article is in Hindi

Tags: snake man Bihar saves snake villagers story Buxars rescue center

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