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‘Kiss of death’ with cobra kills snake lover

Navi Mumbai: In a shocking incident, a snake lover in Navi Mumbai paid with his life for attempting to kiss a rescued cobra and click a selfie here last week, an activist said on Monday.

The tragedy befell a 25 year-old snake lover Somnath Mhatre living in Belapur town who used to rescue snakes and other creatures.

On January 30, he was summoned to remove a deadly poisonous cobra which had slithered into a private car parked in a nearby housing complex, said the activist, preferring anonymity.

After successfully retrieving it from the vehicle, Mhatre took it some distance away to check for any injuries on the cobra.

The snake was fine but jittery, so Mhatre decided to make the rescue mission memorable by kissing the cobra for a selfie with his mobile phone.

He managed to click the selfie, but the scared creature suddenly panicked and sharply bit his rescuer on the chest.

Bleeding and in sheer pain from the poisonous bite, he was rushed to a local hospital for treatment, but he succumbed five days later.

His shocked family members and other animal lovers said he was an expert who had rescued over 100 snakes and released them back in the wild safely in the past few years.

This is stated to be the 31st such incident in the state in the past over a decade involving rescuers or animal lovers, and at least 22 from cobra bites, and the rest by other rescued reptiles.

There have been demands from various NGOs and animal welfare groups to the forest department to issue a set of guidelines to be adopted by animal rescuers and action if they posted pictures of stunts on social media networks.