Listen to the Jogis: Snake Charmers Speak for Snakes

Posted on January 25, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Environment
7 Comments
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Adil Najam

I saw this news item in Dawn (January 21, 2007) the other day and thought it was worth sharing with others. Who better than snake-charming jogis to speak on behalf of the dwindling population of snakes in Pakistan. For them, after all, this is not simply an ecological concern; it is a livelihood concern.

Of course, I have no way of confirming their estimates of the number of snakes and scorpions in Sindh, or the proclaimed medicinal benefits of these snakes. However, as someone whose professional training and work is in the area of environmental policy, I can attest to the fact that (a) the population of these species – especially in Sindh and Balochistan – has been dwindling, and (b) there is significant potential of biomedicinal benefits from biodiversity. The solution that the Jogis are suggesting is not bad either. Whether a new institution is needed or not (as a matter of principle I find it preferable to reform existing institutions rather than create new ones), it is clear that more emphasis on the conservation of these (and other species) is importance.

Personally, I do not, however, believe that any soup or concoction made of snake meat would help in the identification of snakes by those who consume it (this may actually be making the problem worse!). After all, I have been eating chicken for much of my life but am no expert in recognizing different types of roosters!

That being said, I do feel that on this issue we should listen carefully to what the jogis have to say; especially about these species going extinct and the need to do something to reverse the trend.
Here is the news item from Dawn:

HYDERABAD, Jan 20: Snake charmers called Jogis in Sindhi warned on Saturday that many rare species of snakes were fast becoming extinct in Sindh and demanded that the government should set up an institution to preserve and conduct research on the reptile. A group of Jogis said while addressing a press conference at the Hyderabad press club that the government should also establish an educational institution for them. Arjun, an expert on snakes, said that the snakes feed on meat, mud and milk and advised the government to set up an institution to preserve the snakes which were fast becoming extinct.

He said that the snakes’ venom and meat could cure many diseases such as tuberculosis and jaundice and disclosed that Jogis administered a soup prepared from snake meat to their children and believed the diet would help them tell one kind of snake from the other. He claimed that there were 900,000 snakes and 100 scorpions in the province. He said that the most famous specie of snakes were Umel Karo, Pandam, Karar and Lundi and among them Lundi was the most dangerous, which was found only in Sindh.

Mohammad Urs Behrani, Syed Mureed Ali Shah and Aslam Channa also addressed the conference. Jogis had brought with them some snakes, which were put on display in glass containers.

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7 responses to “Listen to the Jogis: Snake Charmers Speak for Snakes”

  1. Eidee Man says:

    Wikipedia is an excellent source of information about science, mathematics, and other information. It is a HORRIBLE source of information if you want to learn about things such as wars and their causes, and pretty much anything where people have opposing views.

    For instance, articles about Allama Iqbal, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, and others are constantly hijacked by Indian users who post all sorts of wrong information…so far my attempts to correct them have been futile…just wanted to let other Pakistanis on this blog know about this.

  2. Samdani says:

    I have always wondered whether these animal tamashas like the bandar ka tamasha is cruelty to animals and should be stopped?

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