(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — He is now being called “snake boy”.
Saifudeen Muhammad the 13-year-old, Presentation College, Chaguanas student went viral after a video was posted on social media of his bravery in removing a wild macajuel snake at the school compound this week.
Since his bravery was highlighted, Saifudeen has received both praises and criticisms.
The teenager said he has a love for animals and is a wildlife volunteer at the El Socorro Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
“My whole life I have loved animals and especially snakes, I find them so fascinating, so when I heard there was a snake at the school instantly I knew that I had to go and remove it because there was someone there already with a piece of wood about to hit it,” he said.
“I told him don’t hurt it, I will remove it, so I went and pulled it out and take a stick and pinned down the snake on the head.”
This was not Saifudeen’s first encounter with wild animals.
He has a YouTube channel where he shares his many animal rescues throughout Trinidad.
“I have been volunteering at the El Socorro Wildlife and Rehabilitation centre and being at the centre taught me a lot about wild animals especially snakes,” he said.
Saifudeen said in Trinidad and Tobago a lot of people are afraid of snakes but he gave a bit of advice: “a snake is not going to hurt you unless you provoke it.”
He added when you see a snake and you want it removed call in professional like himself.
The 13-year-old wildlife lover has over four certifications in wildlife conservation and in the near future, he wants to become a herpetologist.
A herpetologist is someone who specialises in the study of reptiles and amphibians.
Saifudeen’s father, Anes Muhammad said, “Since Saifudeen was five he had a love for wildlife, as he was fascinated with learning the names of dinosaurs, we sure he had a passion and we encouraged him and then we took him to the El Socorro Wildlife Centre”.
Muhammad added, “Well anytime he does have a snake encounter I am very nervous but he handles himself well all the time, I always ask him if he is sure about what he is doing and he replies he is.”
The father said, “So far so good, it’s something he loves and we will continue to encourage him.”
Managing Director of El Socorro Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre Ricardo Meade said from their wildlife camps a lot of the kids come out with new encouragement for conservation and Saifudeen was one of them.
“What we saw on the video, was someone who is capable and acted as a responsible professional in restraining that snake that very few people in this country could have done”, Mr Meade said, “For that we applaud him as he has taken our training into a real-life scenario and deployed it correctly.”
The snake at the school compound was later released into the wild.