Saturday, July 11, 2009

Poaching of rare snake goes unchecked

At a time when wildlife enthusiasts are crying foul over the dwindling population of rare species of birds, reptiles and animals from the vast tracts of forests in Andhra Pradesh, here comes another dampener. No less than 10,000 snakes in Chittoor district are falling prey to greedy s m u g g l e r s every month. Especially, the ‘red sand boa’ snake, popularly known as ‘pudupamu,’ is under serious threat as hundreds of them are caught in villages and sold to brokers from neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka at a mindboggling rate of over Rs 1 lakh per snake.
Adults rarely exceed two feet in length (61 cm), although they sometimes reach 3 feet (91 cm). Adapted to burrowing, the head is wedge-shaped with narrow nostrils and very small eyes. The body is cylindrical in shape with small polished scales. The tail, which is blunt, rounded and not distinct from the body, appears truncated. Coloration varies from reddish-brown to dull yellow-tan. Eryx johnii is a non-venomous found in Iran, Pakistan and India.

“Red sand boas are killed for their medicinal value to cure chronic diseases, while the skins of other snakes are peeled off for making belts,” said Kiranmayee, a wildlife enthusiast. Ironically, the farmers in whose fields the snakes are caught get a pittance, while the brokers take a lion’s share of the earnings.

Asked as to why there is a huge demand for the snakes, a forest department official said the smugglers export them to China and Japan where snake meat is a delicacy. With the green belt of Seshachalam ranges covering the tail-end Chittoor district being home to several thousands of rare species of animals and reptiles, including golden gecko (golden lizard), slender loris, civet cat and red sand boa, the smugglers are having a field day.
“The spurt in smuggling and poaching of reptiles and animals is a cause of worry as these endangered species could become extinct very soon,” regretted a forest official. He said since Chittoor district is close to TN and Karnataka, smuggling is rampant. “We have nabbed several villagers when they were selling red sand boa snakes to some brokers in Ta m b a l l ap a l l e constituency,” he said.
Link TOI

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