Snake of protected species seized from car

Saved: The Indian sand boa rescued from a car at Karakulam, near the city, on Monday night.  

Special Correspondent

Four persons in the vehicle flee the scene

Thiruvananthapuram: The Department of Forests and Wildlife is trying to track down four persons who escaped from the police on Monday night after being found in possession of an Indian sand boa, a protected species of snake. Forest officials suspect that they are part of a racket involved in smuggling snakes.

The snake was found in a car intercepted by the Highway Police for a routine check near Karakulam on the Thiruvananthapuram-Nedumangad route late on Monday night.

The four occupants of the car fled the scene as soon as the police team discovered the snake inside a sack filled with sand. The snake was handed over to the Nedumangad police station, where Forest officials identified it as an Indian sand boa.

District Forest Officer Pradeepkumar said efforts were on to trace the owner of the vehicle that was carrying the snake. “We have decided to launch a detailed investigation into the incident,” he said.

The snake weighing about 10 kg and measuring 4.5 feet in length was handed over to the zoo.

Last month, in two separate incidents at Kumily and Palakkad, the Forest Department had seized four sand boas and arrested five persons for trying to smuggle the snakes into the State from Tamil Nadu.

The Indian sand boa is commonly known as ‘double-headed snake’ because of a blunt tail that looks like a head. When threatened, it hides its head and waves its banded tail.

According to K. Ramachandran, Research Fellow, Caecilian Biology Division, Department of Zoology, University of Kerala, the demand for Indian sand boa in the illegal market is driven by the myth of supernatural and healing powers associated with it. “It also finds a good market in the U.S. and Europe where it is reared as a pet,” he said.