Thursday, January 18, 2024
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
In the world of daredevils and snake enthusiasts, one name stands out—Edward Royce Ramsamy, or as many knew him, Ram Chandra. A fearless showman, Ram's journey was a captivating tale of courage, passion, and a profound connection with some of the world's most dangerous snakes.
Born in Lawrence, near Grafton, New South Wales, on May 24, 1921, Ram Chandra embarked on a path that would make him a legend in the world of snakes and venomous creatures. His journey began on the show circuit in Sydney during the early 1940s, where he fearlessly handled both venomous and non-venomous snakes as part of The Carnival of Eastern Wonders.
Ram Chandra's daring act, "The Pit of Death," showcased his skills with 20 tiger snakes, performing tricks that captivated audiences. His passion for snakes led him to Mackay, where he married Nolear Barba in 1944. The couple raised eight children and adopted three more. It was in Mackay that he adopted the name Ram Chandra and continued his show circuit endeavours.
The turning point in Ram Chandra's life came with his encounters with the taipan, one of the world's most feared snakes. This natural fascination spurred him to become The Taipan Man, as he embarked on the perilous journey of milking venom from these deadly creatures. His dedication earned recognition from the Commonwealth Serum Laboratory (CSL).
In mid-1955, just three weeks after distributing the serum produced from taipan venom, a Cairns schoolboy's life was saved from a taipan bite. Ram Chandra himself experienced the life-saving impact of the serum when bitten by a taipan during a demonstration to ambulance officers in 1956.
Ram Chandra's annual visits to schools across the region were eagerly awaited events. His captivating talks and snake demonstrations were a source of excitement and curiosity for students, leaving a lasting impression on the young minds he engaged with.
For over 50 years, he shared his extensive knowledge of snakes, delivering lectures to medical professionals, school children, and adults about venomous and non-venomous snakes. Beyond his educational pursuits, he raised substantial funds for charitable causes, contributing over $80,000 to the Queensland Ambulance Service, $9,000 to the Queensland Cancer Fund, and supporting various local Lions clubs, Rotary clubs, Apex, and charities.
Ram Chandra's contributions were recognized with numerous accolades, including the British Empire Medal in 1975, Pioneer Shire Citizen of the Year in 1982, the Order of the Outback in 1985, and the Order of Australia Medal in 1995. A flamboyant showman and a dedicated researcher, Ram Chandra passed away in Mackay on July 31, 1998, leaving behind a legacy of education, courage, and a deep respect for the often-misunderstood world of snakes.
Ram Chandra handling a Black Headed Python. Photo supplied by Les Batros