Surya is currently working at ATREE, Bengaluru with a special focus on the taxonomy of Indian reptiles and loves to make taxonomic illustrations of snakes. He has also published several natural history notes on the Indian snakes. Apart fromreptiles, he is interested in the molluscan taxonomy and phylogeny. He is also a naturalist who likes to spend a substantial amount of time in the field.
The Irulas tribe of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in India have been hunter-gatherers in the hot, dry plains forests, and have practiced the art of snake catching for generations. They have a vast knowledge of snakes in the field. They generally catch the snakes with the help of a simple stick. Earlier, the Irulas caught thousands of snakes for the snake-skin industry. After the complete ban of the snake-skin industry in India and protection of all snakes under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, they formed the Irula Snake Catcher's Cooperative and switched to catching snakes for removal of venom, releasing them in the wild after four extractions. The venom so collected is used for producing life-saving antivenom, biomedical research and for other medicinal products. The Irulas are also known to eat some of the snakes they catch and are very useful in rat extermination in the villages. 2b1af7f3a8