He treats people for ‘snake-scare’

Ashok B.N., a final year MBBS student at Vijayanagara Institute of Medical Sciences (VIMS) in Ballari, is known more as a snake rescuer than a doctor in the making. A considerable number of calls he receives in a day, especially in the monsoon season when more number of snakes venture into human habitats, are from the people in conflict with the snakes. “I receive at around 10-15 calls a week these days. Within minutes after receiving a call, I reach the spot on my bike and rescue the snake in conflict with humans. I have rescued over 700 snakes in the last four years,” says Ashok. Ashok too was a snake-scary boy as everybody normally is. He gradually prevailed over it after he entered VIMS as a young and aspiring medical student and was acquainted with Kashinath Negalurmath, a multi-talented model-maker on the VIMS campus who had many dimensions to his personality – an artist, wildlife photographer, snake rescuer and many more. “Just as I joined MBBS in 2016, I started moving with Mr. Negalurmath who taught me many things about the snake species, their lives and the scare and myths surrounding them. In his company for two years, I got rid of snake-scare and emerged as a snake-lover. I went with him wherever he went for rescuing snakes and got trained in the job. After he died of an undiagnosed disease in 2018, I continued his legacy. People did not find it difficult to reach me as my mobile number was widely circulated along with his on social media,” Ashok recalls.Whenever Ashok rescues a snake upon request, he makes the people gather around him and inculcate awareness about the snakes and tries to break the myths surrounding them before leaving the place for releasing the snakes. “If it is a non-venomous snake, I ask the people around to touch and experience it so that they get rid of unnecessary snake scare. If it is a venomous snake, I simply display it to the people from a distance and safely put it in a bag. I will then provide the people with some interesting insights and make them aware. Many myths are surrounding the snakes such as snakes have external ears, green vine snake dashes its head to the human skull and breaks it, cobra can remember its harasser for 12 years, all snakes are venomous, burying red sand boa snake in the foundation of the house before commencing the construction or keeping it at home would bring fortune to the home, using oil extracted from the red sand boa for treating AIDS and sexual dysfunction, there are two-headed snakes and many more. After giving an objective picture of the snake at hand and the general information about all snakes, I will release the snake caught, venomous or non-venomous, in a desolate place,” Ashok says. Ashok never charged money for the service. If the people themselves come forward to give money, he accepts only a small amount that he spent on fuel for his bike. Pointing to the fact that 12 lakh people in India have died of snake bites in the last 20 years, he did not forget to advise the people not to go for local and traditional remedies but to rush to the hospital after a snake bite. (Dr. Ashok can be reached by calling his number: 09110896181)

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