Hi, I'm Shaleen!

Hi, I'm Shaleen!

I'm a Co-founder of IndianSnakes, an outfit which is dedicated to snake conservation in India with a focus on snakebites, which claims over 45,000 human and countless snakes' lives in India every year. What started as a website (indiansnakes.org) in 2010, now works pan-India with multiple stakeholders such as communities, scientists, researchers, doctors, herpetologists, NGOs, corporates and governments, actively working on mitigating snakebites and spreading awareness on ecological importance of snakes, identification, snake bites, rescue and rehabilitation. IndianSnakes has also undertaken several innovative projects on research and conservation solutions including establishing emergency WhatsApp hotlines for snakebite and identification, mapping four species of venomous snakes with an app, in the the biggest citizen science project in the country for snakes, and creating a mobile application SERPENT which includes a field guide, hospital locator and snake rescuer locator for the public.

I am a Chevening Scholar with a Bachelors and Masters degree from the University of Delhi and an MSc in Conservation and International Wildlife Trade from the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent. I have been involved with animal welfare and conservation issues for the last decade, strategising outreach and communications for conservation challenges in multiple landscapes, and have worked extensively on illegal wildlife trade, while being a part of organisations like TRAFFIC India, WWF-India and Wildlife Trust of India. In my free time I work in my local community on Animal Birth Control projects, advocating for spay/neutering and anti-rabies programmes. I am also a member of the Women in Conservation-Canterbury Network and am passionate about inclusion and equality in conservation.


Go to the profile of Simon Black
about 2 years ago

Hi Shaleen, it is good to hear about the impact that IndianSnakes is already making.

I was wondering, my work with carnivroe conflict often finds that people can be very tolerant of dangerous animals in their vicincity if a support service is able to quickly respond to an injury (or even death). Is there any parallel with venomous snakes, particulalry in light of the app services you offer in locating support for people injured by the animals?

Go to the profile of Shaleen Attre
about 2 years ago

Hi Simon! So good to hear from you again.

Being able to provide support and prove that snakebites don't need to be fatal, is at the core of our movement to stop people from fearing snakes and killing them. We've got projects both on ground, which deal directly with hospitals and local communities to bring down death rates, as well as virtual support with WhatsApp helplines with snakebite experts and doctors on board, to assist wherever needed. Technically, the government of India has mandated that all snakebite cases be treated for free in government hospitals but from people's hesitation in going to hospitals and prefering faith healers to not having access to hospitals with anti-venom or simply not knowing what to do incase of a snakebite, there are a lot of problems. We're helping bridge that gap.

We've seen success in our core project areas, particularly our first project site. People have seen the economic benefits of having natural rodent control, especially since it's an agricultural landscape. Since I used be a rescuer myself, in case on non-venomous snakes, I've been consciously adopting the approach of requesting people to let the snake be instead of removing it, as is traditionally the practice and it's been working fairly well. Even with our technical partners Madras Crocodile Bank, they've been leading the way in outreach impact at Agumbe Rainforest Research Station, where they've had no conflict for a decade in an area believed to have the highest density of king cobras in India, simply because support systems are in place despite knowing that a king cobra bite will be fatal since there is no anti-venom. 

I've done a DICE talk on this in case you'd like to know more about our work. It's available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SetllxsIxAo  :)