KUALA LUMPUR, July 2 — Beyond its beautiful skin that is rapidly exploited to make shoes, bags and other leather products, reticulated pythons serve a far more important role in preserving the ecosystem.
In the fifth episode of the Borneo Jungle Diaries webseries, zoologist Richard Burger explains the significant role of the reptile in the Sabah forest that is thought to have the highest snake diversity in the world.
When taking show’s host — Aaron “Bertie” Gekoski – on a tour to study and understand the species better, Burger pointed that snakes were “pest controllers” in controlling rats.
Because of this, he said, snakes have made Sabah’s vast oil palm plantations their homes.
“The pattern is beautiful…this is why they are so highly prized for their skins. Unfortunately a lot of people think it looks nice as a handbag or a pair of boots,” he said.
According to Burger, snakes skin could fetch up to US$10 (RM43) in the trade market and could sell handbags for up to several hundreds of US dollars.
A Sabah Wildlife Department spokesman said reticulated pythons were heavily exploited in the Peninsular and Indonesia.
“This trade has seen rapid expansion in recent years. CITES allows a quota of skins to be exported each year, but there is also a great deal of illegal leather trade activity that occurs, and an unknown number of animals are also killed out of fear or for meat,” he said.
CITES stands for Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. It is a United Nations’ treaty signed by 183 countries to eliminate wildlife trafficking.
Viewers stand the chance to win a four day/three night stay the Danau Girang Field Centre to see the wildlife diversity up close and personal.
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