NEW DELHI: Pythons, seriously endangered in India, are fast disappearing from Manipur where smuggling of this reptile is on the rise.

Wildlife experts blame this on the lack of enforcement of the existing laws in the country.

Python gall bladder is in demand in South East Asian countries and the snake is now being hunted in large numbers in Manipur for this as well as the valuable snake hide. Despite this knowledge the authorities have been unable to control the smuggling of pythons, parts of which are used for largely medicinal purposes. Officials say hefty amounts of money is involved, and the python smugglers are easily able to escape the eye of the law.

Speaking to The Citizen, Louies Jose, Head of Enforcement Assistance and Law, Wildlife of India said, “ The python is a delicacy in the north eastern region. They have also been used for traditional medical practices. So the demand is high. The smugglers are aware that even if they are caught they will manage to come out. So they care less. They certainly need to be protected but with weak enforcement of law it is not possible”.

The age old traditional healers still support animal trafficking for mythical cure. These practices have trickled down ages from community to community. The traditional healers have their arguments. They claim that when the medical practitioners can practice their profession then why not them. The key to provide health and cure are only with the traditional healers they believe and the communities have faith in them.

Speaking to The Citizen, Editor of the Free Press Imphal, Pradeep Phanjoubam said , “The wildlife experts keep pointing out about the rise in smuggling and trafficking. The practices are age old and it is very difficult to convince them not to kill a python. It is an issue in this region”.

Our Constitution places the responsibility for wildlife protection on both the government and the citizens of the country. Article 51 (A)(g) reiterates that it is every Indian’s fundamental duty to protect wildlife.

Wildlife experts are saying that geckos are also being supplied to Indonesia, China, and other Southeast Asian countries as they are thought to cure cancer, impotency, diabetes and other ailments but scientifically they have never been proven so.

Similar reasons apply to the python which is believed to cure cough and fever.

The reptile species falls under Schedule I (the most-endangered species) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Authorities from the Wildlife Department have to make sure that people at the end of day should not be treated as experimental subjects.

“The beliefs have been so strong that counseling hardly helps. There need to be a constant monitoring and one to one dialogue process to involve the community to improve the situation , that is the only way forward,” Jose added.