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MVS Unit, Odisha Forest Department Rescue Russell’s Viper from 30-foot Well in Similipal Biosphere Reserve
Similipal Biosphere Reserve, Odisha, February 13, 2017: A Wildlife Trust of India Mobile Veterinary Service (MVS) unit rescued a Russell’s viper from a deep well in the Baripada Division of Similipal Biosphere Reserve (SBR) on February 11. The rescue operation was conducted in cooperation with staff recruited specially by the SBR Field Director and RCCF’s office for wildlife rescues.

(left) Rescue team member Krishna Gochaiat prepares to enter the well; (right) the rescued Russell’s viper which was later released into its natural habitat

Responding to an emergency call from the Dukura Range Office, the team – WTI veterinarian Dr Khanin Changmai, RCCF-appointed rescue team members Krishna Gochhaiat and Dipak Bentkar, and local snake rescuer S Gayatree Swaine – proceeded to the Bahalda forest beat to attend the case. Frontline forest department personnel directed them to a house in the area belonging to one Jasei Hasda, in front of which a crowd of people had gathered.

A snake could be heard hissing furiously and splashing in a well near the house. The team decided to first identify the snake, since the area has king cobras and other venomous snakes that could endanger a potential rescuer. Fortunately they were able to catch a glimpse of it on the water – it was a Russell’s viper (locally known as chandra bora), among the most dangerous snakes in Asia, accounting for thousands of deaths each year. The team lowered a rope ladder into the well and Krishna Gochaiat, having donned a life jacket, clambered down. As he reached near the water, the viper attached itself to the wall; using a smooth-floored tong to hold it, Krishna secured it in the loop of a dog catcher attached to a long rope, which was used to pull it up out of the well.

“I examined the rescued snake closely and found it perfectly healthy, none the worse for wear”, said Dr Changmai. “We thanked the forest staff and the people present and released the displaced snake back into its natural habitat in the Dukura Range.” 
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