Whenever you see someone kiss a snake as a stunt, there is always a chance you’re about to see someone die, especially if it’s a cobra. That’s what happened to people attending a photo shoot in India where 21-year-old Somnath Mhatre kissed a snake as part of a stunt and then passed away later.
Rescuing snakes and reptiles
According to The Tribune, the wildlife activist rescued more than 100 snakes and other reptiles during his lifetime. Unfortunately, the way he died isn’t that uncommon in India, as activists there say his death marks the 30th that resulted from similar stunts involving dangerous snakes. In just the last five months, two other young reptile rescuers also died in a similar manner.
Police said Mhatre had just rescued the cobra, which locals had called him to trap in a residential area in the CBD Belapur neighborhood in Navi Mumbai last week. Officers said he rescued the snake and then took it to a secluded area where he tried to have someone photograph it while he kissed its hood. While he tried to do that, however, police said the snake suddenly bit him on the chest. He was in the hospital for five days undergoing treatment before he passed away.
Snake rescuers asked to stop kissing cobras’ hoods
The Tribune expects the Maharashtra forest department to start advising reptile rescuers not to try to kiss snakes’ hoods for publicity purposes. Activists are also asking the forest department to advise rescuers against taking part in dangerous stunts such as the one that resulted in the Navi Mumbai youth’s death.
The Resqink Association of Wildlife Welfare is urging the forest department to ban stunts such as these entirely and also to issue strict guidelines for how reptile rescues should be handled. At one time, forest officials issued ID cards for those who rescue snakes, but they stopped doing that amid a rise in illegal reptile-related wildlife activities.
In a disturbing turn that highlights just how sick some people are, photos of him trying to kiss the snake have gone viral on social media. Apparently, Mhatre regularly engaged in stunts like the one that took his life. According to the Times of India, his Facebook profile contains many pictures of him performing such stunts and playing with snakes.