The Banded Kukri, Valley School, 050409

April 5, 2009

As we were returning from the birding session, we found this Banded Kukri (thank you, Seshadri, for the id!)on the path:

banded kukri vs 050409

The damage near the head made me rather sure that the snake (it’s non-venomous) was dead, and that too, because it had been cruelly killed by someone, who then left it on the path. But the others felt that it was alive, and they all photographed it…and then they, too, realized that it was dead.

Somehow the way this snake was killed and left bothered me a lot. I felt very bad about it….just now, I emailed Seshadri about the id and when he gave me the id, I also googled “Banded Kukri” and got this extremely technical (all gobbledygook!) description on

this Wiki link

I had the following conservation with Seshadri, who is normally based in KMTR, or Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (a tiger reserve in Tamil Nadu) but whom I had met yesterday at the Bannerghatta zoo area when he and a group had just finished a herbivore census in the Bannerghatta zoo park….

S: If the snake was dead, you should have picked it up and sent it to me; I would have been able to do a dissection and do a diet analysis. You could have put it in a plastic bag.

D: If you think I am going to carry a dead snake back with me, not knowing where you are and when I can contact you….! …anyway, I didn’t have any receptacle like a plastic bag (I avoid using plastic bags!) with me, either. I only had my camera and my binocs.

S: You could have put it in a camera or binocs pouch.

D. (Shuddering) I didn’t have any such pouch with me. (to myself) ..thank goodness!

S: You could have carried it in your hat.

D: My love of wildlife doesn’t extend to carrying dead snakes in my hat and going bareheaded in the noonday sun….

(To myself) And I can just imagine the reaction from the kind couple who took me along in their car, and the two others who shared the back seat of the car with me, if I got in with a dead snake in my hat. I might wind up as dead as the snake.

S: Yes, contacting me is difficult, then you would have had to preserve the snake in spirit, and the insides would rot.

D. (Silent and Intensified Shudder.) to myself: Pastimes that I am likely to detest: Preserving Dead Snakes in Spirit….

S: But this is a good chance to do a diet check.

D. To myself (Forgive the Hindi but it’s untranslatable) sAnp nEy kyA khAyA, mujhEy pathA nahin…par usnEy zaroor mAr khAyA thA….

to Seshadri: I felt really bad about the way the snake was killed and left callously on the path, and I was not sure if picking it up would be an ethical thing to do…I felt very bad about it for quite a while….

We insist on killing snakes without bothering to find out if they are venomous or not. Even venomous snakes would rather avoid us and slither off…but where we perceive a threat, real or imagined, we are quicker to strike, than the snake is….

This post is dedicated to .....who wants to be a herpetologist, that is, one who deals with her pets...