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Environment

Plot twist: Indian forest ranger posed for photos with python draped around his neck. It nearly strangled him

‘Had I panicked, it could have been fatal’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2018, 8:58am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 November, 2018, 12:52pm

The rock python had just killed and eaten a goat, but perhaps more troubling, the reptile had crushed and consumed its meal within shouting distance of a school. Something had to be done.

So worried residents in Jalpaiguri, a city in northeast India, called Sanjay Dutta, the local forest ranger, on Sunday.

As onlookers stared, Dutta corralled the snake with an animal-control pole, then used thick gloves to grab the snake’s head and pick it up.

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Crisis averted. All Dutta had to do was put it into a sack for quick trip back to the wild, perhaps to the banks of the nearby Teesta River, where it wouldn’t pose a threat to humans.

Instead, Dutta draped the snake around his neck.

It was time for a celebratory photo.

Some residents hoisted smartphones, motioning for others to cram in closer to the forest ranger and the beast he’d captured.

Reports variously put its length at six metres or even an improbable nine metres long – it looks closer to four metres long in photos and video of the incident. Whatever the case, it was long enough to do what came naturally.

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Suddenly perched on the very vulnerable neck area of a mammal, the snake made a few efforts to wrap itself around the man.

Dutta batted the snake’s body away, at one point holding the powerful reptile at bay while he smiled for the camera.

But moments later, he was clearly in distress.

The snake had managed to wrap one coil completely around Dutta’s neck. Meanwhile, the reptile had twisted its tail free of a man assisting the forest ranger, further entangling Dutta.

Scared residents who, moments earlier, had crammed in for a photo, screamed and sprinted away.

“It’s OK,” Dutta screamed. “It’s all OK.”

Clearly it was not.

As he walked away from the crowd, the python tightened its grip.

Dutta resisted the urge to panic or struggle, movements that would just make the snake more aggressive.

“I was not scared for even a moment,” Dutta told Agence France-Presse. “Because had I panicked, it could have been fatal.”

With a little help, Dutta managed to free himself. The end of the video shows him walking away, shaken but breathing. He and an assistant kept a firm grip on the powerful snake before releasing it into the forest.