One Million Snake Bites

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Natural World, 2010-2011 Episode 13 of 14

Duration: 1 hour

From the giant King Cobra to the tiny sawscaled viper, India is home to many of the world's deadliest snakes. Now a new report has revealed that India is in the middle of a snakebite epidemic of epic proportions, with a loss of human life far in excess of any official figures.

Armed with more than forty years of field experience, snake expert Romulus Whitaker and his team set out on a journey around India to investigate the natural history behind these chilling new statistics and to see what can be done to help India's people and ultimately, its snakes.

  • A risky business...

    A risky business...

    Taking the venom from a Saw-scaled viper is a very risky job as only a few drops are needed to seriously harm a human. However it is the key ingredient in anti-venom production, the antidote needed to save lives across the subcontinent. Despite appearing harmful to the snakes, they are released unharmed from the 'milking' process. One of Rom's big questions is to find out whether these snakes have regionally varying venoms, a vital clue in saving more lives across India.

    Visit Wikipedia for more information about antivenom
  • Camouflage kills

    Camouflage kills

    Hiding amongst the tender leaves of a tea plantation, the Large-scaled pit viper is a danger to people. Being so camouflaged is great for hunting prey but also puts humans at risk of contact with snakes. Although not one of the so-called 'Big 4' venomous snakes, this pit viper is still dangerous and can deliver a nasty bite.

    What are the 'Big 4'? Find out at Wikipedia
  • Camera vs. Cobra

    Camera vs. Cobra

    Filming these snakes presented the team with obvious risks, but the camera can sometimes provide a neat cover when trying to get close to them. In this picture, a Spectacled cobra rears up displaying its impressive hood, designed to intimidate potential attackers. It is believed by Hindus that the markings on the hood are those made by the feet of the god Krishna who danced on the snake Kaliya's, head.

    Find out the story of Kaliya, the mythical snake, at Wikipedia

Credits

Series Editor
Tim Martin

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