Wildlife officials seize 26 poisonous snakes in Odisha, bust inter-state venom racket

Sources said most of the snakes had suffered serious injuries. While fangs of some snakes were removed, others had mouth injuries with eyes missing.
Image of a cobra used for representational purposes (File Photo | EPS)
Image of a cobra used for representational purposes (File Photo | EPS)

BALASORE: In a major breakthrough, officials of Balasore wildlife division busted an inter-state snake venom racket and arrested three persons including a woman on Wednesday. At least 26 poisonous snakes, mostly cobras, were seized from the three accused who were identified as Kamal Lochan Panda (36), Gourang Giri (45) and Mamata Mahana (27) of Panchupali village within Baliapal police limits.

Divisional forest officer (DFO) Khuswant Singh said basing on an intelligence report about some persons illegally keeping poisonous snakes in Baliapal area, a team of 25 forest personnel carried out simultaneous raids on the houses of Panda, Giri and Mahana. The forest personnel rescued 26 poisonous snakes, mostly cobras, kept in separate plastic boxes. A snake rescue team from Bhubaneswar assisted the forest staff in the exercise.    

Sources said most of the snakes had suffered serious injuries. While fangs of some snakes were removed, others had mouth injuries with eyes missing.Preliminary investigation revealed that the trio caught cobras from different places in rural pockets posing as snake rescuers. Instead of releasing the snakes in their habitats or informing forest officials, they kept the reptiles at home and extracted their venom. They later sold the venom at high price outside the state.

The accused also earned money by performing shows with the snakes at religious events and even marriage functions. They had been carrying out the illegal activities for more than a year.The DFO said as most of the cobras were injured, the Forest department has asked veterinary doctors to examine the reptiles and provide necessary treatment. After their recovery, the snakes will be released in different forests of the district. A case under Wildlife Protection Act-1972 was registered against the three accused. The trio will be produced in court after necessary formalities.

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