J R Raji, a 33-year-old woman from Nanniyode, a small village that comes under Palode of Western Ghats, excels in catching the venomous snakes with an ease. From deadly pythons to king Cobra, she handles them with aplomb, as she believes it to be a social service.
As a woman, she never grew up thinking snake catching is a male passion but took it as her challenge and managed to rescue 119 snakes from varied parts of Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts in the past 9 months. While breaking the stereotypes, she bravely caught hold of Cobras, where they tried to scare her with their dangerous hiss sound and flicking their venomous tongue out. As she holds the poisonous vipers and deadly pythons in her hand, they tried to bite her. The homemaker turned snake catcher and didn’t give-up her passion and instead continued to nurture it.
With drastic or natural climate changes, these serpents with their traditional habitat slip into human communities, either in their houses or in backyards. Raji, in order to save these reptiles and humans from hampering each other, rescues these serpents and releases them in their nature build home, i.e., forest. With over 11 vipers, 70 cobras, a handful of kraits and 7 pythons, she came as a savior to rescue both.
A degree drop-out and without a professional training, Raji with just a day’s coaching class became a snake catcher. She rides with her husband when it’s a late night rescue call from the villager. She always pats the back of the snake, after catching each snake; she carefully puts it in a container with holes or any sack. She cares for each snake like a mother and releases the non-poisonous snakes at a safe place as advised by the officer of the Forest Department and the poisonous ones are handed over to the Forest Department. The mother of two daughters, Raji has never suffered from snake bite and neither did any of the snakes got hurt. Considering snake catching as a noble social service, she never accepted money but took the offerings as blessings.