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Mumbai: Video sparks concern over snakes kept as pets

Updated on: 27 September,2023 07:22 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Ranjeet Jadhav |

Viral clip from unknown location shows duo perched on window grill trying to push albino python into flat; wildlife conservationists decry trend of keeping wild animals as pets for social media fame

Mumbai: Video sparks concern over snakes kept as pets

The two men were trying to push the snake, seen on the awning and then hanging from the metal grill, inside but it eventually fell to the ground

Wildlife conservationists have voiced serious concern over a video showing two individuals apparently trying to rescue what appeared to be a large pet albino python from a first-floor window of a building. The building seen in the video, which went viral on social media on Monday, is thought to be located in Thane or Mumbai.

Experts are assuming that the snake belongs to an exotic species and was possibly kept as a pet but managed to escape. Amid a growing practice of keeping exotic snakes as pets, experts are stressing the need for guidelines. The fad frequently leads to abandonment when caring for the snakes becomes difficult for the humans keeping them. Depending on their age and size, exotic snakes can cost anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 1 lakh.

The video shows the large python stuck on the first-floor window of the building and two men trying to take it back inside. Even as the state forest department is trying to ascertain the location of the building, people claim the building is in Thane, Kurla or Byculla. In the video, the person perched on the grill on the outside is seen trying to push the snake inside through the grill, while the person standing inside tries to get it in. The snake eventually falls down and collapses on the ground. It is not known if the snake died or suffered injuries due to the fall from the first floor.

Create strong policy

Honorary Wildlife Warden of Thane and President of NGO RAWW, Pawan Sharma, told mid-day that the exotic wildlife trade is a serious global issue because it is mostly illegal and the animals are procured by hunting them in the wild. Many species native to India are hunted and passed off as exotic ones.

Sharma said, “There needs to be an airtight policy to address this with strict rules and regulations. Systemic loopholes are a serious threat to all animal species. In recent times, it has become a trend where many young people and grown-ups keep exotic wild animals as pets, make videos and upload them on social media for money, likes and followers. Animal rights, welfare and wildlife conservation are going for a toss. This incident should spur authorities into taking action.”

Sharma added that the recent amendment to the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, gives the forest department jurisdiction over exotic species. Wildlife conservationist Kedar Gore of the Corbett Foundation also expressed his worry over the trend and added that it creates the demand for animals to be collected from the wild. This may lead to the exploitation and destruction of habitats and an increase in the illegal wildlife trade.

“There could be other consequences like the possibility of transmitting zoonotic diseases since the animals are often transported in unhealthy conditions, which gives them severe stress. They also pose a huge threat to the humans who keep them as pets and to the public at large. The amended Wild Life (Protection) Act now also includes the provisions of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), which seeks to regulate the trade in wild animals and plants. However, such incidents raise several questions about the effective implementation of the Act,” Gore said.

Challenge for biodiversity

Herpetologist Kedar Bhide told mid-day that until recently, India used to be the source for wild animals traded in international markets for pets. Amid a developing economy and globalisation, the consumption of exotic wildlife has increased within the country. This is leading to the entry of exotic animals into the country.

“With no regulations and legal control, it is going to be really challenging for local biodiversity. Invasive species are already establishing themselves in India in the plant and aquatic world. Exotic reptiles will become another challenge. Once the reptiles grow up, the humans keeping them as pets will end up abandoning them. We will have problems similar to the one seen in Florida, USA, where Burmese pythons were abandoned, impacting the local biodiversity adversely. The very limited and toothless PARIVESH portal of the central Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change was a half-hearted effort to tackle this challenge. Stricter regulatory laws and practices under quarantine regulations, Biological Diversity Act, 2002, and Wild Life (Protection) Act are required,” said Bhide.

Exotic snakes kept as pets in India

>> Ball python and ball mutation python (that has a different skin colour owing to mutation)
>> Colubrid snake species (corn snake, milk snake, king snake)
>> Red tail boa 
>> Rainbow boa
>> Green tree or yellow tree python 
>> Carpet python
>> Elephant trunk snake
>> Yellow or green anaconda
>> Mangrove snake
>> Blood python

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