New Delhi, Jan. 19 -- Saket Taduri grasps a 4ft-long rat snake gently, his hands following its undulating contours, allowing it to move. The rescued snake has been bagged for an hour or two and is naturally frightened and as a last-ditch defence mechanism, it sprays a foul-smelling fluid all over its handler. The smell is enough to make you gag but Taduri doesn't drop the snake or mishandle it in any way. Instead, he walks to a nearby thicket and releases it, watching to make sure it glides into the undergrowth.

This is just an hour after Taduri and his colleague Vaishali Chawhan tussled with a 7ft-long cobra to remove it from a construction site in Bhayander East. The snake flares its hood and strikes, defending itself and its territory...