mid-day editorial: Don't reduce animal rescues to a photo op

A Belapur man succumbed to a snakebite he got while kissing a rescued cobra, a report in this paper said. According to reports, the snake rescuer was kissing its head for a photo opportunity. Statistics reveal this is the 31st such case in last 12 years. Before him, another snake rescuer from Satara died after he tried to kiss a cobra. Activists are now calling on the Forest Department (FD) to issue guidelines to prevent such incidents.

Perhaps what is unfathomable is the fact that snake rescuers resort to such stunts despite knowing the reptile very well and understanding how they function. They all seem to have been bitten (pun intended) by the selfie craze, mobile madness or simply social media hysteria - call it what you will.

Animal rescuers, however, should resist from performing such stunts. Neither are these acts heroic, nor an inspiration to any person.

Animals, by their very nature, are unpredictable. Over the years, there have been numerous reports of circus or zoo animals turning on their trainers or caretakers.

Australian nature expert Steve ‘Crocodile Hunter’ Irwin died after being pierced in the chest by a stingray while filming underwater. While Irwin’s death shocked the world, it underlined a brutal reality that life in the wild is unpredictable.
Not just snake rescuers, the general public too should refrain from clicking photos near or with a snake in the event that they spot one.

The idea is to do what’s best for yourself as well as the wildlife.

Attempting such foolhardy stunts can not only endamger your life if the animal bites you, but the animal too is at the risk of being shot down. It may be good to remember that hankering after insta fame can result in instant tragedy if precautions are not taken.

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