Indian rock python

Last year police officers in Karnataka, in south India, learned that ten terrapins and two turtles were being kept at a temple where they were being fed by devotees. It was kind of people to feed them, but sadly, they weren’t being given the right food. To make matters worse, they could never quite relax, because, like any shy wild creature in the presence of humans, they felt constantly on guard, so they were always stressed and never felt at home.

This past December, 2020, as soon as the officers learned that these animals were being kept at the temple, they stopped by to see firsthand what the situation was. They found ten Indian pond terrapins and two flapshell turtles that were living in cramped conditions, all in the same tank in the temple.

Normally, turtles and terrapins really love basking on top of rocks, where they can stretch out in the sun, but these animals had no rocks for basking. The temple authorities meant well, but they hadn’t realized that these animals really needed to be back in the wild. Both terrapins and turtles like to spend some time out of the water, terrapins even more than turtles. Both belong to the order chelonia.

Needing proper care

When the officers talked with the temple authorities, pointing out all the things that the terrapins and turtles actually needed to be happy, the authorities were very responsive. They immediately agreed with the officers that the turtles and terrapins should go to a facility where they could be rehabilitated and then released to live back in the wild.

On December 23 the officers took the animals to the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Karnataka. The veterinarian there, Dr. Roopa Satish, carried out a thorough physical examination as soon as the animals arrived. Then they were put into an enclosure with clean water, a basking area, sunlight, and given a lovely dinner of fresh food.

Soon, with good care, their demeanor changed dramatically. They became very active, swimming about happily, feeding ravenously, and basking away to their heart’s content. Just being given the few things that they needed made a huge difference.

They were kept under observation for three weeks to be sure they were doing well, then government permission was obtained for their release, and they were all sent off together to live in a clean pond inside a protected forest where no fishing or any other human activity is carried out. At last, they could feel safe in their new home.

Back free in the wild

Thanks to the kind efforts of the police officers and the quick understanding of the temple authorities, the terrapins and turtles were able to get a new start in life.

And thanks to the good care and expertise of Dr. Roopa and the caregivers at WRRC, these innocent animals will be able to enjoy the rest of their lives living in the forest in peace, free, and glad to be back in the wild once again.

A python too

Also on the same day, on December 23, 2020, an adult Indian rock python was brought in to the WRRC. In the U.S., unfortunately, we often think of the python as an invasive species which is causing havoc with the local wildlife in the Everglades. Through no fault of their own, pythons have been imported into the U.S. to be sold as pets and then, when they get too big, are released in the wrong place, where they don’t belong. Of course, they’re not meant to be pets, and they’re not meant to be living out in the wild in the U.S. either. It’s good to remind ourselves that the python is really a natural animal that should be left in the wild – in its native habitat in India or in other parts of south Asia.

Fishing nets can be a big problem

This adult Indian rock python that was brought in December to the WRRC was in a lot of distress. She’d gotten caught up in a net, with her head and jaw all tightly wrapped up so she couldn’t move. Fishing nets can cause a lot of harm to wildlife. It’s easy to get tangled up in them.

Dr. Roopa, with the help of one of the caregivers, restrained and sedated her, and, working really carefully, she cut away the fishing net. Eventually, the python was completely free of the net, which must have been a great relief to her. She wasn’t injured, just really stressed. She was rehydrated because they were not sure how long she had been stuck in the net and hence unable to feed. Once she was free of the net, she was able to move around easily. Pain killer injections were given to her, and she was left to recover in a quiet, secluded enclosure.

Captivity itself is stressful for wild creatures. The python didn’t really feel much like eating, and so she refused to eat any food. After three weeks of observation to be sure she was all right, she was taken back out to the forest, to a lovely peaceful spot where there is no human activity like fishing or washing. Immediately, she felt a lot livelier. She curled herself around a tree – looking out through the leaves at her surroundings with curiosity, all ready to take up her life again in a safe wilderness, in the beauty of the forest.

All wild animals have an important role to play ensuring the balance of nature. They all need protection from human activity that can cause them harm and a chance to live out their lives in the wild, as nature intends.

It takes special training and knowledge to rehabilitate wildlife, and it’s an essential activity — not just for the animals themselves, but also for the whole ecosystem – and for the wellbeing of the earth herself.

Forest Voices of India
– conducts charitable fundraising services for environmental charities, especially in India.
WRRC – The Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre,
Bangalore, India
– is licensed to treat and release back to the wild – birds, deer, monkeys, and other orphaned or injured wildlife.
– provides education and greater understanding that benefits forests, wildlife, and wildlife habitat.
How you can help
Click on the donate button and choose WRRC. Another great way to help is to send this link to a friend.
Bless you! Thank you for helping our wild friends!

© Forest Voices of India, 2021

Photo credit

© Indian rock python, after release, WRRC, 2021

« »