Virender Sood had his first encounter with a snake in 1961, in a farm in village near Palampurin Himachal Pradesh, when he was 6 years old. When he was crossing through a rice field with his classmates, they saw a snake on the passage. An aged farmer, who was working in the field, politely handled the snake and threw it away. He told boys that if handled carefully, snakes do not harm anyone. That was VirenderSood’s first lesson about handling snakes.
Virender Sood recalls that the first time when he himself handled a snake, was somewhere in 1962, when he went to bring drinking water from a locally-made water tank (बावड़ी). There he saw a snake with a frog held between its jaws that the snake had caughtto eat. Virender used a branch of a tree to gently push the snake out of the water tank, which went away into the forest with its food – the frog.
These first two encounters with snakes in his early childhood removed VirenderSood’s fear of snakes, and hestarted saving snakes, and those humans that encounter snakes.
Virender Sood – a Chemist by profession, is running a medicine shop near Zonal Hospital at Solan in Himachal Pradesh. Before settling down at Solan he had lived in a village near Palampur, then Gagret (district Una) and also at Rohru (district Shimla) of Himachal Pradesh. In order to earn his livelihood he sell medicines that save human lives. Simultaneously, he also devote some time to help people by removing snakes that accidently enter human habitats, and to relocate them to their natural habitats – the forests. Therefore, he acts as a saviour of both humans and snakes.
During the past four decades Virender Sood has utilised his snake-handling talent to help hundreds of people and have also rescued hundreds of snakes injured by scary people. Whenever he catches a snake, he keeps the snake at his home or shop in a transparent jar for one to five days, before releasing it in a forest area away from human habitation. During this one to five days’ period, he not only observes the physical attributes of the snake, but also its behaviour to increase his knowledge about snakes. He also provides first-aid to wounded snakes before relocating them to forest. He told that usually people hit even the non-poisonous snakes with stones or stick etc. as a measure of self-protection.
Whenever he is able to spare time he watches TV programmes about snakes on TV channels such as Discovery Channel, National Geographic and Animal Planet, etc. in order to learn more about snakes. In seventies and eighties, when there were no TV programmes on snakes, he used to read very few books on snakes, which were available in Central State Library of Solan, at that time.
Virender Sood is a well-known social worker of Solan who keeps helping patients of all sorts visiting Solan’sZolan Hospital for treatment. He uses his skills & knowledge as a pharmacist to help and guide patients. He wants to “document” the data about all species of snakes found in Shivalik Hills, so that the record can be utilised by doctors of Himachal Pradesh to stock the “appropriate” antidotes to save people affected by snake-bites.
He also wishes to contribute to wildlife and environment protection by educating masses about non-poisonous snakes, so that people do not harm the non-poisonous snakes.