The changing urban ecosystem

Despite the major advance in science and natural studies, humans are yet to comprehend the full range of impact they have on the environment. Human action are merely the first domino to fall and bring down along with it complex and intricate natural life cycles that have existed for billions of years.

Bangalore: A study of the rescue records from the last 25 years shows an explosion in the population of cobras, Russell’s vipers and rat snakes while non-venomous snakes such as green keelback, olive keelback (pictured below) are disappearing. Why?

The primary reason for this is our inefficient waste management system.

Scientifically speaking, snakes such as the cobra, Russell’s viper and rat snake have adapted well to the urban environment. The main reason for this is because of the endless supply of rodents hosted by the surplus garbage in the city. With most of our trash going straight into the gutter, the rodent population increases only to feed these expert rodent hunters better.

Plump, well-fed cobra rescued from Bangalore city limits
The non venomous species on the other hand depend on amphibians (frogs, skinks, lizards, geckos) whose survival in turn depends on a healthy ecosystem which we no longer provide (due to degradation of resources, conflict in their allocation, climate change, urbanisation and many other factors).

Unchecked urbanisation is the reason why our co-inhabitants are dying out; the fact that we have eliminated so many species of snake from the checklist of Bangalore in such a short span of time is devastating.

From our archives: take a look at these non-venomous snakes that seem to be disappearing from the urban landscape:

Juvenile green keelback (Macropisthodon plumbicolor)
Yellow collared wolf snake (Lycodon flavicollis) feeding on gecko
Olive keelback (Atretium schistosum)
Dumeril’s black headed snake (Sibynophis subpunctatus)

List of non-venomous snakes whose numbers we have noted to be on the decline (going by total rescue calls received for each specimen since 2010):

Olive keelback

Green keelback

Buff striped keelback

Vine snake

Common sand boa

Banded racer



Common wolf snake

Barred wolf snake

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