Not just the flood waters but snakes and other reptiles – Palm Civet (kabar bijju or grave digger) and monitor lizards – are becoming a cause for worry for the people of low-lying areas of Prayagraj.
Due to the floods, snakes, pythons and big lizards have got displaced from their burrows in wetlands of rivers and are entering residential areas with increasing frequency. Moreover, many reptiles and wild animals were also carried away by the flood waters and could be seen floating dead.
With many such incidents reported from flood-affected areas in the district, the forest department is on the alert and has constituted teams in different areas of the city and rural areas to rescue wild animals that have strayed into residential areas. However, forest officials have denied having received calls regarding sightings of crocodiles or alligators in residential areas till now.
A video went viral on social media a couple of days back in which some persons were seen dragging a big crocodile using ropes. It was rumoured that the crocodile was rescued in the Shivkuti area. Later, it came to the fore that the video was of some other place.
Locals in many areas claim that they spotted small crocodiles and alligators in Ganga and Yamuna rivers. It is believed that they were swept away in the flood waters from their natural habitat in the Chambal. Many were caught in the swollen Ken and Betwa Rivers, tributaries of the Yamuna.
Locals at Baghada, Salori, Kareli, Daraganj along with locals in rural trans-Yamuna and trans-Ganga areas spotted a large number of snakes, scorpions, pythons, monitor lizards and even Palm Civets strolling near villages, relief camps and areas close to flooded banks of rivers where many displaced families have taken shelter. Rizwan, a resident of Kareli claimed that he spotted a huge python flowing in the flooded Yamuna on Monday morning.
Sanjay Nishad, a resident of Mahewa, claimed spotting carcasses of wild animals like jackals, foxes etc flowing in the river. Videos and photographs of reptiles including snakes and monitor lizards taking shelter in deserted homes in flooded areas have also gone viral on social media and WhatsApp during the last few days.
Divisional forest officer Mahaveer Koujalagi said teams of the forest department in the city and rural areas are on the alert and are keeping a strict watch in flood-affected areas.
Teams, which include experts, rush to the spot soon after receiving information about reptiles and other wild animals in flood-affected areas and rescue them. Immediate action is being taken on information received through police and administration.
“We are receiving many calls from panic-stricken people every day after they sight snakes, pythons, Palm Civets etc but we have yet not received any reports or calls regarding crocodiles or alligators entering residential areas. Pythons, monitor lizards and snakes are not uncommon in the city and rural areas. In case they are spotted, people should stay away from them and should not panic. Their presence should immediately be reported to the helpline number or the police,” the DFO said.