TIRUPATI: Despite a ban on illegal wildlife trade in India, the underground business in rare creatures is continuing unabated in several parts of the country, including Andhra Pradesh, posing one of the gravest threats to biodiversity.
Supposed medicinal properties of sand boa, apart from myths and beliefs surrounding this rare snake, has led to their illicit hunting and capture over the past few years; not only in AP but also several parts of the country, putting this species to the risk of extinction.
This non-venomous snake has attracted a lot of attention in recent times. It is one of the costliest creatures in international black market with the price of a single sand boa ranging from lakhs to crores of rupees.
More so, the demand for Indian Sand Boa in the world market, especially in Malaysia, China, and a few south-east Asian countries is high. They are used in making medicines, aphrodisiacs, cosmetics and black magic. There is also belief among Chinese and Malaysians that owning this reptile can bring immense luck and wealth.
In this backdrop, sand boas are being extensively trafficked from various Indian states, especially AP, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Forest and police officials say smuggling of sand boa is rampant across the southern states, with two to three incidents of people being caught with the reptiles being reported monthly. There is no estimate of the number of snakes that may have already been smuggled.
Last year, three youth from Pudupattu village in Karvetinagaram mandal of Chittoor district were nabbed by police when they tried to sell a sand boa. Many cases of trapping, smuggling or trading in this rare species have come to light in the recent past. The latest is arrest of an inter-state gang involved in this trade at Naidupeta in Nellore district on Friday.
“Sand boa is endemic to three countries – India, Pakistan and Iran. This non-venomous snake is widely trafficked in the international black market because of the myths and beliefs surrounding them. The price of the snake is decided by its weight. Trafficking or killing of a sand boa is a punishable offence,” Nellore district forest officer Shanmukha Kumar said on Friday announcing details of the arrest at Naidupeta.