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Russell's viper: awareness guidelines issued

Russell's viper: awareness guidelines issued

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The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has issued a notification with guidelines to address the growing public concern following the recent reports of the appearance of Russell’s viper in various parts of Bangladesh.

According to the guidelines, Russell's viper (Daboia russelii), a highly venomous snake, usually lives in the grasses of lowland, scrub forests, open forests and, agricultural areas and avoids human settlements.

The snake is matte in color and can easily blend in with the ground. People must avoid walking in tall grass, bushes, agricultural areas or stepping into potholes without taking proper precautions.

Torch light must be used while travelling at night, the notification said.

Russell vipers, being good swimmers, have spread to different parts of the country by floating in the river currents and flood waters. Hence, everyone has been requested to stay alert and cautious.

Extra precaution must be taken to avoid snake bites in areas where Russell vipers have been spotted.

One must keep the surroundings of his house clean and free of garbage, and must take special care when removing fallen trees, firewood, and straw.

If anyone spots a snake, not necessarily a Russell's viper, a call must be made to the national helpline number 333, or must inform the nearest forest department office. People have been asked not to try to catch or kill the snake unnecessarily.

In case of snake bite, an injured person must not move the bitten limb.

Most importantly, one should not waste time in going to Ojhas’ (spiritual healers) or Snake Charmers, but should go to the nearest hospital or health care center as soon as possible, as Russell viper antivenom is available for free in all government hospitals, the notification said.

In this regard, Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr. Samant Lal Sen said, “The country has enough anti-venom or antidotes to face the current situation. The government is monitoring the situation closely and has ordered to keep antivenom in hospitals everywhere.”

To reduce Russell's viper prevalence, unnecessary killing or habitat destruction of a variety of wildlife, including animal beneficial for the ecosystem such as- Mongoose, Monitor Lizards, Large Indian Civets, Asian Palm Civets, Forest cats, Crested Serpent Eagles, Fishing cats, Cranes, Lesser Adjutants and some species of snakes must be prohibited, it added.

It should be noted that the Russell's Viper is a protected animal under Section 6(1) of the Wildlife (Conservation and Security) Act, 2012. Being a punishable offense, killing snakes should be avoided.

Under the guidance of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Bangladesh Forest Department is taking various steps to deal with the situation and constantly monitoring the overall situation, it said.