University of Moratuwa, Katubedda, Sri Lanka.

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Why are we afraid of snakes?

Serpente is a novel initiative by Rotaract Alumni Mora with the objective of raising awareness of serpents and the importance of protecting serpents. There are 294 species of snakes in the world and 96 are found in Sri Lanka. Of these, 50 species are endemic to the island. There are 13 species of sea snakes and 10 species of blind snakes in Sri Lanka. Most of the threats to Serpentes in Sri Lanka are formulated by the activities of humans. Many people believe that all snakes are deadly venomous and dangerous. Based on this belief, snakes are killed by humans, but most of the time, even nonvenomous snakes are killed due to this assumption.

Serpente webinar series became a huge impact on serpent lovers. And it’s good teaching for everyone who believes the traditional myths about serpents.

Why do you need at least little knowledge of serpents?

Humans in various cultures have feared snakes, provoking an aversion and persecution that hinders conservation efforts for these reptiles. Such fact suggests that conservation strategies for snakes should consider the interactions and perceptions of the local population towards these animals.

The first chapter of the webinar series has completed on 2nd of February as a virtual session by the Independent Researcher on Herpetology, Mr. Sanjaya Kanishka Bandara. Over 200+ participants were registered for the event and it mainly covers the basics of serpents. The session mainly focused on snake awareness based on the evolution of snakes, the ecology of snakes, the references for snake lovers, snake venom, and differentiation between poisonous and non-poisonous snakes. The Q/A was also done along with the session which was an interactive session for the participants. The questions from the school children were interesting and provide a clear image of our younger generation’s responsibility towards the protection of serpents.

Why Categorization and Identification of Serpents are important?

Snake bites in Sri Lanka cause death to nearly 100 people annually. Administering the appropriate anti-venom treatment for snake bite victims gets delayed causing complications as a result of the inability of people to identify the snake. Incorrect identification of snakes also causes threats to the existence of harmless snakes threatening the biodiversity of Sri Lanka.

The second chapter of the webinar series has completed on the 9th of February as a virtual session by the Independent Researcher on Herpetology, Mr. Sanjaya Kanishka Bandara. Over 200+ participants were also registered for the session which covers the tips to identify the serpents.

The accurate identification of snakes is particularly important for healthcare workers to diagnose and treat victims of snakebite envenoming. Further, snake identification is vital for the general population, especially for those who live in areas of high snakebite incidence. Owing to the great diversity of snakes and the superficial similarities between some species, the correct identification of these reptiles is often difficult. Therefore, the identification of snake species is challenging for healthcare workers, biologists, naturalists, and the general population.

Identification of snakes creates a strong support system for the medical sector as well. Physical identification of the offending snake certainly would assist the physician in clinical decision-making in treating snakebite victims. Hence, making the offending snake specimen available for medical staff for identification should be encouraged. However, the non-availability of the snake for identification would not drastically alter the routine management of snakebite victims in Sri Lanka.

The resource person made the conversation interactive by engaging the audience to identify some serpents in the slides and gave tips for easy identification.

Don’t you take snake bites as seriously?

If you are unfamiliar with the different types of snakes and unable to distinguish between venomous and non-venomous ones, it can be difficult to know how to respond in the event of a bite. Always treat a snake bite as if it’s venomous.

The third chapter of the webinar series has completed on the 16th of February as a virtual session by the Member of Medical Association Snakebite Committee, Dr. Lahiru Kalpage.

Specific measures related to housekeeping, outdoor work, healthcare-seeking and home health practices have been identified as determinants of primary and secondary prevention of snakebite envenoming.

Penned By: Rtr. Dilina Kosgoda

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