TRAFFIC urges not to keep Red Sand Boa as pets

TRAFFIC urges not to keep Red Sand Boa as pets

Red Sand Boa is protected under India’s Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972

Red Sand Boa. Credit: DH

The Red Sand Boa Eryx johnii, commonly called the ‘double-headed snake’ because of its blunt tail that resembles its head, is reported to be one of the most traded reptiles in India today.

In recent years, there have been reports claiming an upsurge in demand for Red Sand Boas across the domestic illegal markets in the country, mainly due to the new age superstitions attached to them, and an increasing quest to keep them in possession despite this being illegal under Indian law.

To highlight this, TRAFFIC’s India Office with support from WWF-India has launched an online campaign for raising awareness about the illegal trade of Red Sand Boa in the country.

The key message “Owning is Stealing” aims to enlighten wildlife consumers that not every animal belongs in their home and urging them to not buy protected wildlife species as pets as their actions can have an adverse impact on the wild populations of the species.

In a press statement, Dr Saket Badola, Head of TRAFFIC’s India office, said, “Despite its important ecological role and its protection status in India, the Red Sand Boa is heavily trafficked. This illicit trade is adversely impacting wild populations, it is therefore imperative that law enforcement agencies understand this ecologically important species better and take strides to curb the illicit trade of this snake in India.”

Red Sand Boa is protected under India’s Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and any sale, purchase or possession of the species is a punishable offence.

The Red Sand Boa, like any other snake species, is important for our ecosystem. It helps in maintaining a healthy population between prey and predator. It feeds mostly on rodents, lizards, and even other snakes.

Dr Badola added, “We need to rethink our relationship with the Red Sand Boa. It has countless benefits when it remains in the wild – playing an important ecological role that also supports farmers by reducing crop damages by rodents."