Snake Shyam

Snake Shyam

Infobox Person
name = M.S. Balasubramania

caption = Snake Shyam
birth_date =
birth_place = Krishnarajanagara, Karnataka, India
death_date =
death_place =
other_names =
known_for = Snake enthusiasm
occupation = Driver
nationality = Indian

M.S. Balasubramania, popularly known as Snake Shyam, is a snake enthusiast, wildlife conservationist and lecturer in Mysore, India.Special correspondent. (February 14 2008) [ A prize catch for the ‘naturalist on wheels’] "The Hindu". Retrieved 2008-08-06.] Though not a trained herpetologist,Srinivasaraju, Sugata. (November 29 2004) [ The charm of a gutless racquet] "Outlook" Retrieved 2008-08-06.] he is known throughout the Mysore region as a "naturalist on wheels". [Special correspondent. (July 4 2005) [ Snake falls victim to superstitious belief] "The Hindu". Retrieved 2008-08-06.] Shyam rescues and rehabilitates snakes and educates the public about them. [Staff correspondent. (June 26 2007) [ 60 teenagers chosen for a course on wildlife] "The Hindu". Retrieved 2008-08-06.] He is also sometimes consulted by local hospitals to identify a species of snake prior to treating a snakebite victim.Staff. (September 22 2005) [ A hiss and tell story] . "The Hindu". Retrieved 2008-08-06.]

Shyam has been widely recognized for his work. National Geographic featured him in its "Croc Chronicles: Snakes, Karma, Action" special. Mysore city has named a street for him and has dedicated its first "urban forest" to him and fellow environmentalist Hyder Ali Khan. [Staff correspondent. (April 6 2008) [ Sapgreen activities begin tomorrow] . "The Hindu". Retrieved 2008-08-06.]

Shyam is also known for his personal flamboyance and has been described by "The Hindu" as "easily the most recognisable characters [sic] of Mysore, complete with his sun hat, overflowing beads and multiple rings that adorn his fingers".


. [ The unknown animal lover Snake Shyam] Retrieved 2008-08-06.] He demonstrated his interest in snakes an an early age, when a snake invaded a neightbor's home. After convincing those around not to kill the snake, he caught it and released it into the garden. From this incident, he earned his nickname.


By profession, Shyam was a driver, transporting children to school, but beginning in 1982 he began to be frequently called upon to retrieve snakes that had encroached on people's properties, a job for which he receives no pay. Called multiple times each day, Shyam uses a pillowcase and a badminton racquet without strings to net the snakes, which he then releases into the forest. Though his mission to safely remove these snakes has cost him considerable expense, Shyam continues from the desire to see these snakes released rather than killed. Recently, authorities in Mysore have offered to defray some of Shyam's expenses by paying his telephone bills.

In 2004, he estimated that he may have caught and released over 40,000 snakes since he began in 1982; as of February 2008, the official record, which he began in 1999, was 11,755. Though Shyam has only been bitten four times in his rescue work, he has developed an allergy to antivenin, which requires that he exercise great care in handling snakes.

His knowledge of snakes—he can identify 28-30 local species of snakes—is founded on personal experience, but supplemented by reading the works of or speaking to professionals such as Romulus Whitaker, J.C. Daniel and faculty at Mysore University. Shyam's van features paintings depicting snakes and also displays his slogans: "Snakes are not as poisonous as human beings" and "Care for the rare".


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