Stunt with king cobras lands youth in legal tangle

Stunt with king cobras lands youth in legal tangle

File photo for representation

He had a passion for catching king cobras from the wild, performing and filming stunts with them and later releasing the clippings on social media platforms. And this landed 24-year-old Rohit Meher, a resident of Bargarh district in western Odisha, in a legal tangle.

King Cobra is a protected reptile under Indian wildlife laws. After a preliminary inquiry, the officials in the local forest division in Bargarh detained the youth for further investigation. He is being interrogated. “We are conducting a detailed probe on the matter and action will follow soon”, said an official attached to the forest division.

The issue came to light a few days back when small video clippings with a few girls performing live stunts with king cobras went viral on the social media platforms. The young girls were seen kissing the live cobras dangerously in the short duration films.

Responding to complaints from wildlife activists, the Bargarh forest division officials swung into action after it was found that the films were video-graphed in some forest areas within the western district. A preliminary probe led the officials to Meher who reportedly admitted to filming the stunts.

According to forest officials, the youth was catching the cobras from forest areas near his residence and was bringing them home. Subsequently, he was filming the stunts with the help of the girls and releasing the reptiles in the forests after that. One of the performing girls was his sister and rest were her friends. 

Wildlife activists have demanded that the forest department should probe whether the video clippings were being used for commercial purposes or not. If activists are to be believed, use of protected wildlife species for monetary gain by individuals is considered unlawful and violation of wildlife protection act.