Indonesia: For farmers in Mamuju, python skins traded for pocket money

The Jakarta Post 3 Apr 17;

The death of Akbar Salubiro, a farmer in Central Mamuju regency, West Sulawesi, who was killed and eaten by a giant python last Thursday, might have shocked people, but more often it is humans who prey on the snakes, not the other way around.

The forest rangers from the Mamuju Natural Resources Conservation Unit recorded that at least 1,000 python skins are being sold annually in Mamuju.

“Almost all districts in Mamuju and Central Mamuju have a lot of pythons. Farmers usually sell them to traders,” said M. Hardi, the chief of the forest rangers, as quoted by tribunsulbar.com on Saturday.

Ismail Passokorang, 53, confirmed Hardi’s statement. Passokorang worked as a supervisor on the government's land clearing projects from the 1970s until the early 1990s.

“Land clearing workers often saw many snakes in Tobadak, Karossa and Topoyo,” he said.

He added that the land clearing in Mamuju occurred from the 1980s to the 1990s when it was still a regency in South Sulawesi.

Ismail also said in the 1980s, workers in Mamuju often sold snakeskins to traders in Bebanga village in Kalukku regency, around 50 kilometers from Mamuju. The snakeskin sheets were dried, weighted and packed before being sent to Makassar.

He added that he almost never heard of people being eaten by snakes. “If the snakes eat goats, sheep or pigs, that’s common, but a snake eating a man, that’s new,” he said. (mrc/wit)

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