Published: 27th September 2018
Why Biplab Mahapatra is teaching school students in Odisha about poisonous snakes
Biplab Mahapatra talks about his Mission 100 Schools programmes that is teaching kids that not all snakes are dangerous or poisonous
When we get on a call with Biplab Mahapatra, we felt pure serendipity when he disclosed that he has been selected as one of the brand ambassadors for the upcoming World Animal Day on October 4, by the World Animal Day Organisation, based out of the UK. Not only this, the founder of the Angul chapter of People For Animals (started by Union Minister Maneka Gandhi), has also been selected as the brand ambassador for Postcard for Peace, an organisation which uses postcards to spread messages of peace and love as well. Double whammy, we say!
From childhood, snakes are portrayed as something we should be scared of and there is also a lack of knowledge about them, says Mahapatra
Today, this animal welfare body In Odisha does so much more than just rescue and rehabilitate. They are honorary members of the Animal Welfare Board of India and are associated with the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau as well. "We not only have a good anti-poaching unit of our own, we also initiate a lot of educational outreach programmes," informs the 31-year-old. Their most recent outreach programme, which they started in August, is Mission 100 Schools, wherein, they aim to make students understand the importance of snakes, help them distinguish between which snake is venomous and which isn't among many other lessons. "Official data says that more than 45,000 people die of snake bites, which is second only to road accidents," he informs and implores us and everybody else to fight the mindset that all snakes are dangerous.
I have always felt that I have a responsibility towards animals
Biplab Mahapatra, Founder, People For Animals, Angul chapter
Mahapatra started the People for Animals chapter of Angul officially in 2013 but his journey of rescuing and rehabilitating animals goes way back. His first rescue was a python and possibly by sheer coincidence, he recently rescued a 14 feet python from a 30 feet deep well, upon getting a call from the forest department.
High point: Mahapatra being felicitated by Union Minister Maneka Gandhi
Apart from this, the members of the Angul chapter patrol the forest along with the officials of the forest department, train them for capacity building and guide those who are looking for a career in this field among other things. The chapter has recused more than 20,000 animals till date and Mahapatra alone has rescued 7,500 animals (He even tells us that he has applied for a record in the Limca Book of Records). And of course, along the way, he has been bitten by venomous snakes too. But he has survived it all to continue doing what he lives for. "My entire family is fond of animals and I have a great inclination towards nature. I guess, I get it from them. I've always felt the need to do something for the voiceless creatures of our planet," states Mahapatra, who is also a professional mountaineer.
Through the Mission 100 Schools initiative, they have organised talks at about 40 schools till date and overall, are looking to impact about 45,000 students
Talking about the whether the law is conducive to animal welfare, Mahapatra says, "We have the right laws in place but there is no enforcement and that is where we are falling short." As he signs off, he promises to keep doing his bit for our beloved Mother Earth.
For more on him, click on facebook.com/tigerbiplab facebook.com/tigerbiplab