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NEPAL

SNAKE FESTIVAL

THE NEPAL SNAKE FESTIVAL (NSFest) was initiated with the aims and objectives to conduct the various awareness programs regarding biodiversity conservation primarily focusing on species of snakes, human-snake conflicts mitigation, snake conservation and snakebite management in Nepal. Although this festival is initiated in 2023, most of the team members have decades of experiences with the expertise on snakes and snakebites. Our team has conducted numerous programs in collaboration with national and international conservation partner organizations. Till date our team has conducted more than hundred awareness and outreach programs, capacity building training, workshops and interaction programs in various districts of Nepal. Our major programs are "Save The Lives", "Theatre in Education", "Save Snakes Save Nature", "Human-Snake Co-existence", "Save The King", "I Speak for Snake Conservation, and You?", "Rescue and Relocation" etc. During this journey, for the first time we had collaborated with the Actors' Studio Nepal in the drama Katha Kasturi (Snakebite) written by Nayanraj Pandey and Directed by Deeya Maskey. We also collaborated with Mandala Theatre-Nepal in Nepal International Theatre Festival (NITFest) 2022. We placed our awareness stall outside the drama hall and got very good feedbacks from audiences and visitors. We have distributed various educational materials to all the visitors.

 

The NSFest team is a group of young, enthusiastic and dedicated snake conservationists and snakebite expert's team of Nepal. The NSFest was planned after having long experiences in this field to keep working together consistently. We have organized the first edition (Chapter 1) of Nepal Snake Festival (NSFest) in Kawasoti, Nawalpur district from 20th - 21st August 2023 with the slogan "Promoting Co-existence between Humans and Snakes". 

The festival was featured by other allied events such as Various Awareness Stalls, Educational Documentary Shows, Face Painting, Cultural Dance Show, Drama Show, Museum Specimen of Snakes Display, Professional Snake Handling Methods, Puja and Mantra Chanting, Questions and Answers, Interviews, Poster Presentation, Herping, Photo Exhibitions, Art Competition Award Ceremonies etc. It was expected around 1,000 people (500 each day) including school students and locals from different regions will visit our festival but more than 5,000 visitors (around 3,500 in the first day and around 2,000 in the second day) have visited and gained the knowledge from the festival. Although most of the visitors were locals but the visitors from Jhapa (Eastern Nepal) to Kailali (Western Nepal) were also attended the festival. The representatives from Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD), World Health Organization (WHO), Bheri Hospital and many others were also visited our programs.

This was probably the first of its kind in Nepal that we have organized the snake festival from which hundreds of people benefited which definitely may help to make a positive change in people's perception towards snakes and overall biodiversity. In this 21st century, a creative way to educate people can fill an important role in education and we are practicing that. We believe that this program has a potential to create connections with our visitors/audiences and are powerful medium that can create awareness at a national level. 

We would like to express our gratitude to the entire team of the Nepal Snake Festival (NSFest Chapter 1) and all our supporters without whom it wouldn't have been possible to make this happen. 

Aims to Celebrate NSFest in Nagpanchami :  

Nagpamchami is a festival of faith and devotion. People have different stories and beliefs regarding Nagpanchami. Panchami is the fifth day among the fifteen days of the moon's waxing and/or waning. The Nag Panchami always falls on the fifth day of the moon's waning in the Lunar in the month of July/August. Nagpanchami is celebrated on the day of Shravan Shulkla Panchami. The eight serpents namely, Ananta, Basuki, Padma, Mahapadma, Takshak, Kulir, Karkat and Shankha, are worshiped on this day. In addition, Lord Shiva, who wears a snake, is also worshiped on this day.

On the day of Nagpanchami, offering milk, curd, akshata, dubo, kush, sandalwood, flowers to the serpent deity, worshiping them, hanging a picture of Ashtanag on the door of the house with the help of cow dung, chanting mantras written on the picture of a snake or reciting the text of the Nagstrota is also done. Worshiping the snake on this special day is believed to prevent snakebite, prevent fear of fire and snakes, cure diseases, prevent lightening from hitting the house, and bring rain to crops. There is also a scientific fact that snakes do not digest milk (problems in the digestive process can lead to death) and milk is offered when a picture of a snake is placed on the door of a house, so there is also a religious belief that snakes do not enter through the door due to the smell of milk. Most of the people dislike snakes, are afraid of snakes or want to kill any snakes they encounter. On other days, when encounter, most of the people kill the snakes whatever the snake is either venomous or non-venomous due to fear of being bitten and due to lack of awareness but on this special day, people generally do not kill and try to avoid snakes. 

Snakes have various importances such as ecological importance, medical importance, religious and cultural importance etc., therefore snakes are considered as farmer's friend and life saver. We are going to celebrate the Nepal Snake Festival (NSFest) on the day of Nagpanchami every year with the aim of explaining these different importances of snakes and introducing our religious culture with scientific facts to the entire world. 

About 26 districts of Nepal are considered to be highly affected by venomous snakebite. According to a recent study, many people are affected by snakebite in Nepal every year, some of whom die due to snakebite. It has been found that most of these incidents are due to lack of awareness about snakes and snakebites. As snakebite is preventable and treatable, if some basic things related to snakes and snakebites could be understood or explained, perhaps the lives of many people who died could have been saved. 

We had celebrated the Nepal Snake Festival on the day of Nag Panchami to raise public awareness about how to avoid snakebite, recommended first aid for snakebite, dos/don'ts when bitten by a snake, symptoms of snakebite, species of snakes, misconceptions about snakes and snakebite, human-snake conflict mitigation, importance of snake conservation in biodiversity, how to contribute to snake conservation etc.

Nepal Snake Festival

NSFest - Chapter 1 & Nag Panchami Celebration

Promoting Co-existence between Humans and Snakes 

An Update Submitted By: Kamal Devkota

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With recent permission from the National Health Education, Information and Communication Centre (NHEICC) and DFO, Government bodies of Nepal to release our video from youtube. The  NHEICC is planning to broadcast it through Radio Nepal and Nepal Television (the only government radio and TV in Nepal)

This is wonderful for the people of Nepal. At this time we do not have this video translated in English 

VIDEO MESSAGE from KAMAL DEVKOTA

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                                            Save The King 

                                               Project Summary

 

The King Cobra, Ophiophagus hannah (Cantor, 1836) is the longest venomous snake in the world. It is listed as a Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and also listed by the CITES Appendix II. The King Cobra is found in a wide variety of habitats; forest, grassland, shrubland, wetlands, terrestrials, arboreal and aquatic. They use a variety of habitats including pristine/degraded/broadleaf forests, tropical rainforests, tropical/subtropical/temperate wet forests, mangrove swamps, swimming in rivers, palm oil plantations, close to river banks, ponds and sometimes small waterways in the vicinity of human habitation including agricultural field and rural villages. Primary threats to King Cobras are thought to be habitat destruction and illegal collection for the skin trade, food, pets, traditional medicines, and persecution by humans. 

 

Nepal is rich in diversity of fauna and floras with unique geographical position and variation in altitude (below 100m-8,848m), habitat, climate and ecological zones (tropical to alpine). Although the King Cobra has been confirmed from 42 districts of Nepal there has been limited research on King Cobras, most of which are confined to small areas, or consist of data from opportunistic surveys. The main purpose of Save The King project is to highlight the current status of the King Cobra and conservation needs in Nepal.

 

Nepalese have deep-rooted traditional, cultural and religious beliefs towards snakes and worship snakes as gods. Hindus celebrate a special day called Nag Panchami, a famous snake festival, where snake posters and snake sculptures are worshiped by people. In Nepal, every year 1,000 people die out of 20,000 snakebite cases. However, hospital reports indicate that King Cobra bites are extremely rare compared to other venomous snakebites. Unfortunately, most people consider King Cobra to be extremely dangerous and frequently killing them when encountered. Our preliminary survey data reflect an increasing trend in King Cobra deaths. We believe that deaths will decrease in the future, as people become more familiar with King Cobra behavior through this Save The King project. 

 

Nepal has undergone a rapid increase in human population due to expansion of developmental activities, causing drastic decreases in forest areas, which result in increased human-King Cobra conflicts. Our preliminary survey suggests that major threats to King Cobras are deliberate killing by humans and large-scale habitat loss due to increased presence of humans. We will conduct research programs on this charismatic species to understand its natural history and ecology, as well as continued conservation education, community outreach and capacity building programs to protect the habitat and Save The King.

 

  • Project Objectives: This project aims to increase the existing information on the King Cobra from Nepal and to mitigate human-King Cobra conflicts in the communities.

The specific objectives are:

  • To find out the distribution and habitats of King Cobra in Nepal.

  • To build the capacity of the community people through workshops and awareness programs for the conservation of the King Cobra

  • To facilitate rescue and relocations of the King Cobra from human dominated areas to its natural habitats 

  • To distribute educational materials like brochures, posters and screening conservation awareness related video shows.

                The Save The King Project includes the following activities: 

 

Distribution and habitats of the King Cobra:

This study will provide very important data on King Cobra, mainly from the areas with no previous detailed studies. This information will help conservation institutions and researchers to develop management plans and conservation strategies which will make a long-lasting contribution to species conservation.

Rescue and Relocation:

We will rescue the King Cobra if needed (when it's inside or in the premises of the people's house) and will relocate to its nearby natural habitat which directly helps in the species conservation. 

Outreach and Awareness Programs:

We will conduct awareness and outreach programs at schools and at different levels of community focusing on King Cobra and its conservation. There are a lot of traditional beliefs, superstitions and misconceptions due to which people are indiscriminately killing King Cobras. So through the public awareness programs, we will make educational talks giving the knowledge on misconceptions on King Cobra and the advantages of conservation of King Cobra to overall biodiversity which will also make a long-lasting contribution in species conservation.

 New poster and brochures printed and distributed                for awareness programs in Nepal.               Please download print and share.

Snake Conservation Brochure 

Nepal Save The King Poster

Nepal Brochure 

Save the King Paper

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