Wayanad - Encounter with a Python

“There is a python in the jungle. Would you like to see it?” these words were enough to get Samhith all excited. Of course, we first refused to believe we could actually see a python in the wild. Then, we wondered if it had been captured and was being used as an exhibit. It was only when we were assured that the python was by itself, probably incubating its eggs, and that it was by no means captured, and that it was perfectly safe, that we agreed to go have a look.



We were on our way to the Kuruva Island, and had just passed the ruined temple, when our guide asked us this question. Our acceptance meant a slight detour, and change in plan. We headed off into the forest, through winding roads and lush greenery which belied the summer, and finally came to stop in front of a chain tied between two trees which served as a marker for the protected forest area. There were none living here but some local tribes, and, for the moment, we were the only people here, seeking an encounter with a python!


A forest guard met us here, and led us into the jungle. A deep ditch served as a more effective boundary for the jungle than the thin chain, since it (usually) succeeded in keeping the elephants away, or so we were told.


I was fascinated by the huge trees here, which formed a tight canopy over us, with the sun peeking down through the slight gaps in the foliage. As we went further, the path became narrower, and eventually, we had to step over some bushes to where we were told, the python lay resting.


Warned to keep quiet, trying to make the least amount of noise, and with throbbing hearts, we approached what appeared to be just another bush, and there it was......

Can you spot the python???

In a sort of cave formed by the bushes, the python lay, curled up tight, its eyes closed. Even at rest, it appeared so impressive.



We were told it had first arrived there a couple of months earlier. It was seen all over the place, and then it had disappeared, only to return some weeks later, when it settled on this spot and refused to move. It was supposedly a female, incubating its eggs. Indian Rock Pythons normally incubate their eggs for about 58 days, so the python was expected to stay put for about 2 months. When it first arrived, it was so huge that it took up the entire space within the cave-like nest, but now, almost a month later; it occupied less than half the space. Can you imagine giving up food and sitting put in one place, just so your young ones can grow?


It was while we were returning that we met another bunch of people, also escorted by a forest guard, on their way to see the python. It was evidently becoming an attraction, and I wondered how safe the python and its young ones would be, under the circumstances.

Indian Rock Pythons are classified as ‘Near Threatened’ species, and to think of one getting ready to bring her young ones into the world so close to civilization was unbelievable. It is an experience I will treasure, yet I wonder if it was the right thing to do. The gawking crowd will surely increase by the day, and I wonder what its impact will be on the python. Will she consider the onlookers a threat to her children? What happens when the eggs hatch and a number of young pythons are let loose? Will our inherent fear of snakes prove to be too much for the young ones, which remained safe under their mother for months?


I don’t really know the answer to these questions, but I can only hope that the python and her young remain safe and get back into their world without any interference. 

Comments

  1. Quite a huge one! Not many of the young ones would survive. There are other predators to make them their meal.

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    1. Yes, PNS, quite true, but at least the young ones are inherently geared to cope with their natural predators. its the human interference that they are unprepared for...

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  2. That looks like a real adventurous encounter with the wild... Great captures....

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  3. Hi Anu, did you speak to the guard about your concerns?

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    1. yes Rushikesh, I did. we communicated partly in tamil and partly with my guide translating... and he said that people werent allowed inside without a forest guard, so it was fine... but then again, he doesnt want to address the fact that people might come in without guards, and he might not even get to know. even when they do enter with guards, he can only tell people to be quiet and not throw stones etc. but as we know, people do tend to shout excitedly, try to rouse animals by throwing stones etc... while he believes that he can keep people from doing all that, i am a bit doubtful..

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  4. Impressive! Nice captures Anu.

    http://rajniranjandas.blogspot.in/2013/06/amidst-sea-of-blue.html

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  5. It took time and concentration to spot the python from the first photo!!! Wow! Nature is truly magical!!!
    Life finds its own way to evolve and grow! Yes, human threat is very high but if the mother survived 3months and now she is incubating her eggs without any immediate danger brings in some hope!
    A lovely post!
    Kanthi

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    1. Thanks Kanthi. good to see you commenting here :D there is always hope when you see something like this. how we manage to keep the hope alive is the question

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  6. Interesting post with fetching pictures! post written very well with main points.

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  7. I am reminded of a python that made its home near my office building. During winters it used to come out to sun itself. We were scared it would gobble up one of our men from the office. :D

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    1. Wow, Indrani, that must have been quite an experience!!! working so near a python!!! cant even begin to imagine what it would have been like!

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  8. Wonderful experience. I hope the constant stream of visitors won't disturb the reptile to abandon its net

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    1. yes, Rajesh, it was!!! and i hope the same thing too...

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  9. My concerns are exactly what you have put forward regarding the presence of human population. I hope the python doesnt get too many 'enthusiastic' visitors. I have seen too many cruel instances in the past.

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    1. Isnt it sad, Sangeeta, that we are at a stage when we see something so beautiful, but can think of little beside the fact that it is threatened! and we see it everywhere we go....

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  10. Wow ! That must have been quite a sight. One one hand I am glad that you were able to see it and share it with us here. And on the other I feel that the guards should not have let out this information at all. If the python is nesting, all the more reason to let her be in peace.

    You and Samhith are responsible travellers. How can one be sure of the others?

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    1. Thats the biggest problem, Sudha! and the one on our mind as we watched. and this has happened before too.... its sad to think that by the very act of seeing, we are endangering them :( wish people actually realise that we are the tresspassers. not the animals.

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  11. wow, my son would have loved to see the python in the wild....will show him this picture

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    1. yes sowmya! both you and your son would have loved it! am sure u will get many such opportunities too!

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  12. Wow! This is a rare experience. But as you said, will it be good for the python? When we are offered such a sight, it is hard to resist also. :)

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    1. yes Bindhu. that is the question on all our minds. and u are so right. its hard to resist, even tho we know the problems involved. just wish more people were at the very least aware!

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