Bangladesh snake charmers strive for survival

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Added On October 4, 2014

As one of the oldest professions in the world, snake charming was once the most appealing entertainment in Bangladesh. 
 
Pretending to hypnotise a snake by playing pungi, performers of the dangerous and mysterious profession appear to have lost their past glory.
 
It is estimated that there are 500,000 snake charmers in Bangladesh. Now many are struggling to make a living, and to retain a profession that many fear is perishing.
 
Unlike most of the snake charmers in Bangladesh, who wander around the country like nomads, Mohammad Jahirul settled down with his poisonous snakes in a village 32 kms north from the capital Dhaka.
 
SOUNDBITE: MOHAMMAD JAHIRUL, Snake charmer 
"We used to play with snakes around the country. People call us gypsies. But we are not gypsies at all now, since we have permanent residence."
 
Jahirul said he grew up with horrendous snakes and played with them. But the better days have gone; now it is quite hard for him to make a living with this profession.
 
Another snake charmer Mohammad Babul said rapid urbanization, deforestation and climate changes are posing threats to snake population.
 
As most snake charmers send their children into other professions rather than passing down the skill to them, Babul feared that snake charming would vanish in the future.