New Delhi: A city-based NGO Wednesday claimed to have rescued from Agra 33 endangered snake species including 27 cobras whose fangs and venom glands had been gouged out and four non-venomous rat snakes which had their mouths stitched.
"In a day-long raid by Wildlife SOS in collaboration with the state Forest Department, 33 endangered species of snakes were seized from poachers from around three temples in Agra city. The men were masquerading as snake-charmers and duping devotees into giving them alms," the NGO claimed in a statement.
It said that based on a tip-off, the NGO's team from Agra was deployed in the early hours of Monday morning to carry out a joint anti-poaching operation with the Forest Department and the local police.
"The seizure included 27 cobras whose fangs and venom glands had been gouged out and four rat snakes, which are non-venomous, but had had their mouths stitched. A python and red sand boa were also recovered," said Baiju Raj M V, Director-Conservation Projects, Wildlife SOS, who facilitated the operation.
Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Wildlife SOS said that capturing snakes and using them for display and entertainment is banned and a jailable offence under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
"Awareness regarding the illegality of the offense and the abominable treatment of these animals is incredibly important to curb cruelty and poaching of wildlife," Seshamani said.
"It was a very complicated operation as we had to carry out the delicate process of removing the stitches from the reptiles' mouths and checking for infections or other injuries," he said.
The snakes will be kept under observation to see if they will be able to survive in the wild following which they can be released, the statement added.