HYDERABAD: A racket of keeping snakes as pets and then selling them online was busted by Telangana forest department officials on Monday.
This despite the government of India listing several exotic and endangered species of wild animals as ‘banned pets’.
On receipt of reliable information, the anti-poaching squad of the forest department in Hyderabad and forest officials of Medchal district caught two persons red-handed for selling snakes on Facebook and WhatsApp.
“Our anti-poaching team rescued the reptiles after receiving information that a person was posting photographs with snakes on Facebook. On further investigation, our officials came across Facebook posts and WhatsApp messages, where a python was put up for sale for Rs 24,000,” said Sudhakar Reddy, Medchal DFO.
“Our teams rushed to a house in Venkatadri Township of Chowdarguda village in Medchal and found a python and a Bronzeback snake there,” said Reddy.
A probe into the matter revealed that a person named Sharan Moses kept the snakes at his house for the last one month and was trying to illegally sell them online to interested parties.
His friend Vanorous Praveen, also a resident of Venkatadri Township, was nabbed for getting himself photographed with the python around his neck and uploading it on Facebook and Whatsapp.
The forest officials seized the two snakes from their premises and booked a case under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Python is a Schedule – I species and possessing and illegal trade of the animal attracts imprisonment of three to seven years and a minimum fine of Rs 10,000.
The two accused have been sent to judicial custody by the Metropolitan Magistrate Court, Rangareddy.
“While you may think to own non-venomous snakes like python and Bronzeback is harmless, keeping them as pets are not just unethical but illegal, and can land you in jail,” said A Shankaran, senior official of the forest department.