Authorities in Vietnam undertook 2 operations on Friday which resulted in the seizure of 109 King Cobras. 53 were found in a sack in a car being driven in Hanoi and 56 were seized in Hoang Mai District. The world’s most verminous snake which grows up to 18 feet in length is also sadly sought for use in traditional Chinese medicines.
Trading in King Cobra is banned in Vietnam and the seizures are some of the results of an operation that was launched after a survey by the Wildlife Conservation Society was published at a wildlife conference in Hanoi last week. The survey showed the widespread and open trading of endangered and protected wildlife species on Vietnamese web sites.
The conference was co-hosted by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Vietnam office of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). It was attended by conservation organisations and wildlife authorities as well as web site administrators and IT companies.
The 53 deadly snakes being transported by car were discovered in green sacks. The driver had been paid less that $50 to transport the snakes to their destination. All the snakes seized are being held at a wildlife centre just outside Hanoi and will eventually be released back into the wild once health checks have been completed.
The King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) was once widely spread across Asia and common place but is now classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. The snake gained it’s Red List place in 2011. In some areas, including Vietnam, the population has been decimated with falls of 80% in just 10 years.
Globally it is estimated that 30% of the population has been lost in the last 15 – 20 years. Habitat loss is part of the problem that this majestic snake faces but it is the trade for meat, leather and so-called ‘medicinal’ uses.
IUCN Red List: King Cobra.