Hunting snakes for money

Devendra Verma

Bijuwar (Pyuthan), April 20:

Snake hunting might sound a little crazy but come summer and this hilly district of Nepal witnesses saperas, traditional snake-hunters by profession, hunting for snakes. Their prey are sold in Kolkata. There are almost half a dozen saperas, who travel to remote hilly villages every summer.

Karan Sapera, one of the hunters, says, “There is a high demand for poisonous snakes like Cobra, Dumeni and Karet.” They earn Rs 800 to Rs 1,000 for a single snake. Only poisonous snakes have any market. Ordinary species of snakes do not therefore interest them.

“Buyers are not interested in buying non-poisonous snakes,” Sapera told The Himalayan Times. According to him, these snakes are sold to the Medical College in Kolkata.

Poisonous snakes are used for medical purposes, for treating diseases like cancer. The saperas are unaware of the legality of their profession. But they have never been bothered by anybody.

Law in Nepal regarding snake trading is not clear. But this cross-border snake trading is potential danger, particularly for being an unorganised business activity.