The word “snake” itself conjures up fearful thoughts in our minds, forget about even sighting one. The moment a snake is seen, people's thoughts automatically veer towards a stick and how best they can kill the reptile by striking it repeatedly.
Also, there is a wrong perception floating among people that most snakes they see are poisonous. For example, the rat snake, which feasts on rodents and is harmless, is easily construed as being poisonous and killed.
There are very few who are aware of poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, and those rescuing these reptiles are fewer. These people not only risk their lives but also do not expect anything in return as a matter of duty towards wildlife conservation. One such among them is Pradeep Gawandalkar from Valpoi, Sattari.
On Goa Liberation Day, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant felicitated Pradeep for his dedicated work in the field of wildlife conservation and social work. Ever since then Pradeep has received several accolades and phone calls from the whole of Sattari taluka congratulating him.
Pradeep, who has been active in the social and cultural scenes of Sattari, has rescued a large number of snakes from across the taluka. People call him any time of the day if they encounter a snake on their premises.
Pradeep is ever ready to attend to these snake calls at any given time of the day or night. Born in Dandeli, Karnataka, the man is very people-friendly and is a tailor by profession.
Gavandalkar is also active in organising trekking activities for students in forested areas for the past 20 years. He is also into adventure activities like river crossing and rappelling.
To date, he has rescued nearly 46 king cobras, 500 common cobras, rat snakes, vipers, saw-scaled vipers, Russel's vipers and pythons.
Pradeep has also helped fire brigade officials to rescue animals that have fallen into wells. Also, he is a regular blood donor and has donated blood 40 times to date. He is also a trained yoga practitioner and is active in spreading awareness about yoga among people. Whether it is catching snakes, taking students out on treks or yoga training, Pradeep puts all his dedication into what he does without expecting any rewards.