Environment & Biodiversity

India’s Illicit Red Sand Boa Trade

  • A new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)-India details 172 red sand boa (Eryx johnii) seizures from 2016 to 2021.
  • It is illegally distributed under the guise of its use in black magic rituals.

Concerning the Red Sand Boa

  • The Red Sand Boa is a rare non-poisonous snake having medicinal, cosmetic, and even black magic properties, making it highly valued in the global market.
  • It is known as the “Two-headed Snake” by the general people due to its lengthy tail with a rounded tip that resembles two heads.

Conservation Status

  • Trading and possessing the red sand boa are illegal under the 1972 Wildlife Protection Act.
  • The species is included in Schedule IV of the World Protection Act.
  • Furthermore, the red sand boa is included in CITES Appendix II.
  • It is classified as ‘Near Threatened’ by the IUCN, with a declining population trend.

Social media is a major trade moving element.

  • The study emphasises the critical importance of social media platforms, particularly YouTube, as conduits for illegal trafficking.
  • YouTube videos serve as interfaces for buyers and sellers, with transactions occasionally facilitated via WhatsApp.
  • In 2021, around 200 YouTube videos advertising sand boas for sale were discovered.
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