Kolkata: With 46,900 people in India succumbing to snake bites in a year, an NGO has now come up with the novel `All India Snake Guide Map` to help determine which reptile is poisonous and what is the line of treatment that should be followed.
Designed like a geographical map that can be hung on the wall, the two feet by three feet publication classifies snakes in terms of whether they are venomous or non-venomous and on the basis of where they are found - land, river or trees.
"In almost every case of snake bite, the first reaction among the victim and his relatives is that of shock and bewilderment. They cannot decide whether the snake is venomous or not. And this only leads to delayed treatment, which may even lead to death," said Bijan Bhattacharya, secretary, Canning Juktibadi Sanskritik Sangstha (CJSS), which has published the map.
CJSS is based in West Bengal`s South 24 Parganas district that houses a part of the world`s largest mangrove forests, the Sundarbans.
"There are 33 varieties of snakes in India. Of them, nine are poisonous - seven of them living on land, and one each in water and trees," Bhattacharya told IANS.
Snakes living in water are grouped into those found in the sea or those found in fresh water. In case of fresh water snakes, the further sub-groups are those found in rivers and ponds.
"Against sketches of each snake, there is a short description listing its identifying marks so that it can be easily recognised by the people, particularly the villagers. Each stage of treatment if bitten by that particular variety is also provided.
"The map tries to shatter prevailing myths about snakes. For instance, many still rely on quacks and treat the wounds with herbs. The map tries to raise awareness about the futility of such measures which can prove even fatal," he said.
The map also provides details of the varieties of snakes found in a particular state.
"Most of the snake bite deaths are reported from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Assam," he said.
This is the third map brought out by CJSS. Earlier, the NGO had published a snake guide map of South 24 Parganas district, and followed it up with a similar effort encompassing the whole of West Bengal.
"We have plans to market the maps commercially," he added.