Friday, July 9, 2010

Python Rescue

May 9, 2009.
This is the date when I saw my first Wild Python [Python molurus]. A friend named Dhawal Mehta (Pursuing M.Sc. Zoology and specialization in Wildlife Biology from Saurashtra University which is collaborated with Wildlife Institute of India) had been to Junagadh to get lost in the wilderness of Girnar Wildlife Sanctuary. We had been to several places in Girnar for Birdwatching and getting some signs of the Big Cats. We were taking dinner at Home when suddenly my Phone Shouted. It was a call from my friend Darshan Vadolia. Darshan has rescued as many as 150 Snakes, both venomous and non-venomous, from the residential areas of Junagadh City. It is due to Darshan that I have seen varieties of Snake Species (Otherwise who will find such varities in the Wild!!!). So I received the phone and Darshan told me that there is a Python struggling for his life. The Python has fallen down a 120 feet open well, just as Lions and Panthers fall. This was it. He told that we will have to go for the rescue since the python is in the well since 2 days and people are not able to take the snake out due to fear. The location of the Python was near Jamwada(GIR), located in the National Park area of Gir. Jamwada is located some 100 Kms. from Junagadh and is a 4 hour drive on bike. Without finishing a healthy meal, myself and dhawal packed our bags and were ready to move. We all 3 friends met near our routine meetup place, filled up petrol and hit the road for the biggest opportunity to c the python. The time of departure was 10 PM in night. We reached Jamwada at 2.30 AM where we were welcomed by Forest Guards and Localites. Since rescue operation cudnt b done at night, we went to a “Vadi” of some local people. The “Vadi” was awesome and we could hear the Roar of a Mighty Male Lion in the Close Vicinity. Of course, Jamwada is the hot spot to c the Asiatic Lion in d Wild. Having some breakfast and tea, we were letting the time pass. The Lions roar were making the environment more electrofying. We departed from the Vadi at about 4am and what the hell we found on the road was a lioness with 3 cubs. There was age difference in the cubs. 2 cub was like 7 months old and one cub was merely 3 months old. We had a very good sighting of this female with cubs. Then we moved to our Shelter Place. We had a sleep of merely 3 hours and got up at 7. Finishing all the routines, we were ready to move to the location where python was struggling. Here is the best part of the trip.. Forester Parmar came to the site when we were preparing ourselves for the rescue. Localites were not aware that there’s a python. They thought it to be a Russell’s Viper which is known as “Chittad” in Gujarati Language. Localites told Forester that Chittad has fallen into the well and the forester groped inside the well for 4-5 minutes but cudnt see anything. Then he asked the localite that where is Chittal? It is noteworty that the spotted deer is also known as “Chittal” in Gujarati and the forester was searching for the spotted deer in the well!!!!!

Now we had already setup a “Khatlo” (Khatlo means villager’s bed made up of wood and ropes) tied with ropes on all sides to ensure that it does not lower on any of the sides. Darshan, Dhawal and Myself were having Adrenaline Rushing high throughout our bodies. On one side there was a feeling for the Python and other side the Hot Air of May was demotivating us. Now we lowered the Khatlo in the well. Since the well was more than 100 feet deep, we cudnt see anything beyond some distance. So the localites and forest officials bought a mirror. The direct sunlight that fall on the mirror was reflected into the well in the form of a small circle. Now we can c the python clearly, de-energyzed and tired. It took almost 3 hours for the python to believe that the unusual thing in the well was not a danger, but a friend. So it climbed up the Khatlo and laid flat on it. It was now our turn to do something straneous. We were holding the ropes from the beginning of the rescue operation and hands were burning like hell due to the friction imposed by the ropes. With full force and energy, we pulled the ropes and there came the Khatlo along with the Python on it. It was Darshan’s time to be in action. Since it was his first time to handle a python, he was a bit worried of how to catch the snake. But without wasting much time he took the grip of the python and pressed its head slightly to prevent it from biting. We were seeing this constrictor for the first time and observed all the mintue pyhsical characteristics of the snake. We saw the furrow of the heat receptors near the lip. Now it was done. Dhawal and Myself took couple of Photographs and then transferred the Python in the Wheat Bag(Ghav No Kothdo). Now it was the best part of the rescue, the Release Back Into The Wild. We 3 along with forest staff went to the Shingoda Dam, which is a large reservoir amidst the national park. The creevices on the bank of the Shingoda River are ideal habitats for the Pythons. We trekked down to one such creevice, took the snake out of the bag. Dhawal did the Sex Determining Procedure and found that it was a female of some 6 feet 3 inches. After finsihing up the measuring tasks, we had a group photo with the python. After the photo-session, the Python was released on the rocks from where he crawled down rapidly into water. Within seconds, it disappeared. After completing this rescue, we were returning to the Shelter place and we saw a White-Eyed Buzzard in flight.
This was it.
One of the most memorable days of my life. Thanks To Darshan


  1. Nice account.

    BTW, This friend of yours, Dhawal Mehta...actually I met someone called Dhawal in Agumbe last year. He was also from Gujarat. But I forgot his surname. Ask your friend if he is the one.

  2. Lovely work done here Ankit & Darshan.... buddy you are enticing me to come to Junagadh......

  3. nice blog ankit. Its interesting to read your experience in the wild. you guys are doing really good job.