Love is the key thing that binds the whole world— it should be unconditional, and it should flowinto every life regardless of the form that it takes. Vidya Raju is such a lady who emanates her love to all the life forms — snakes, elephants, birds and plants. Her policy is live and let live, and with immense courage she had let snakes like python back to their home – forest, ensuring that nobody harms them. She cannot stand the suffering of animals and birds and to avoid them of their suffering, she travels that extra mile, if needed. Vidya Madam is ‘love’ personified and let us have a chat with her to know more about her ways of rescuing of Snakes and other animals.
1.Vidya madam, in Kerala we have Vava Suresh, a snake lover and the next name that we hear is that of yours and during the floods you have done a lot to save both humans and snakes . When did you start your affair with snakes and other reptiles?
I have been a nature lover since my younger days. My interest in reptiles, however, has been there since 2000 when we stayed in Goa due to my husband’s posting. To understand how I turned to rescue snakes, one must go back several years – to be precise, the year 2000, to the time when my husband, Commodore NVS Raju, then a Commander, was stationed in INS Mandovi, Verem, Goa. I used to go for bird watching trips and one such trip changed the way I looked at these reptiles. I saw a man in the team rescuing a snake during one such trip and I was fascinated and wanted to do so myself. Seeing my enthusiasm, some members of the bird watching team, who were also familiar with reptiles, initiated me into it.
2.People in general get scared out of their wits when they see a snake and the immediate reaction is to kill them, be it venomous or not . Any suggestion Vidya Madam?
This is due to lack of awareness amongst the public. Snakes are creepy, and are associated with danger and death. This creates fear in the people and prompts them to harm the reptile. Making the people aware of the types of snakes and giving them clues of identifying a snake will reduce this fear and anxiety in the people. This awareness, if initiated at a young age, will find the children growing up with empathy. I take awareness sessions in schools to promote understanding amongst the children. I give talks on the topic in other places as well for the benefit of adults.
3.You really pain for the elephants chained, and the torture they endure here during the temple festivals. Earlier elephants (even other animals like cows and horses for that matter) were treated royally though they were domesticated. We have authentic thesis on elephants like Hasthi Ayurveda and Mathangaleela, which throw light on how to take care of them and use their intelligence and skills without even harming them. minutely. Now, the elephants are just used as a revenue source with little care and attention. As an animal-lover, do you think that there is a possibility to reverse this trend?
Many times people use animals for monetary benefit, but most of them do not have a criminal mind. I believe if groups of people involving in such activities are educated of animal rights and the way the voiceless need to be treated, things will improve because not many would want to get involved in illegal activities. Spreading awareness along with a constant vigil to bring to book the few offenders will definitely reverse the trend.
4.You are so in sync with nature that you can identify the birds from their calls. Out of your love to the nature, you are also trying to imbibe this quality — that is to love nature— into children around your area. How was the response of the parents and others to this venture of yours?
I have always had a positive experience in promoting bird watching among the children. I emphasis that bird watching can be done from their residence itself to start with. Parents and others not only encourage their children to participate in these activities but very often participate themselves.
5.You have lived in various part of India, do you think there is a vast difference in the terrain and in the flora and fauna of each state? Are the other parts of India, more respectful to animals than we in Kerala?
People in our country are caring and compassionate to animals and I experienced a great lot of love from people to life and nature in all parts of India. I do find that Kerala is blessed with greenery and wildlife much more and this had infact been an incentive for me to continue staying here after my husband’s retirement.
6.It was really a surprise to see that you have also learned about the herbs of Kerala, Kerala is a state with great herbal opulence. Earlier we respected these herbs, and we worshipped them for their qualities as we do with Dashapushpam and Mukkooti. Unfortunately, we are losing out these precious herbs for simple useless plants (which are even poisonous too). Is there a way to protect these herbs and grow them in our
Yes, I had developed an interest in herbs and could develop a Herbal Garden in the Indian Naval Academy campus in Ezhimala in 2010 when my husband was posted there. Selecting the right herbs to suit the environment with care and with nourishment and constant vigil, I do believe that the areas for cultivating can be increased. In fact, Kerala can pride itself as having a populace with awareness in this regard. Many people are cultivating herbs in even limited spaces over here.