Asian Life & Times - SALT
Rom Whitaker - The Snake Man of India
By Janaki Lenin
To Rom Whitaker, hunting snakes has always been a
passion. He caught his first snake when he was just four. This was in the
country estate that he shared with his mother and sister in northern New
York State. Although scared of snakes, his artist mother encouraged him
tremendously and soon he started bringing home garter snakes and milk
snakes. Then came the Big Move. In 1950, Rom's mother married an Indian
gentleman and moved the family to Bombay, India when Rom was seven. For the
next ten years Rom went to a boarding school up in the mountains in the
south, in India's favourite biodiversity hotspot, the Western Ghats.
Weekends were spent hunting snakes in the surrounding jungles, while
weekdays were spent looking after a 12 foot python that lived quietly under
his bed at the dorm. Somewhere in between the two activities, he attended
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