A villager carries the dead python.—Dawn
A villager carries the dead python.—Dawn

MUZAFFARABAD: A more than 15-foot-long Indian python was killed by villagers in a suburban area of Mirpur after it tried to swallow a goat, a wildlife official said on Saturday.

Mohammad Sajid, assistant director of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s (AJK) wildlife and fisheries department, told Dawn a man was grazing his flock along a water channel in the Chittar Parri area at about 5pm on Friday when he noticed that the python was trying to eat one of his goats.

The man, identified as Mohammad Faisal, immediately phoned fellow villagers, many of whom reached the site within 20 minutes, the official said. “In their attempt to free the goat from python’s grip, the villagers hit it with wooden rods, ultimately killing the reptile,” he said.

Some India pythons (P. molurus) regularly exceed 10 feet, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Despite their large size, some of these species survive in urban and suburban areas, where their secretive habits and recognised value as rat catchers par excellence serve to protect them,” it says.

Villagers take selfies with over-15-foot-long reptile

Video clips posted on social media showed people gathered around the dead python, close to which was also lying a dead black goat.

In one video clip, villagers could be seen carrying the dead python on their shoulders towards a main road, where they took selfies with it.

Mr Sajid said officials came to know about the incident late on Friday after people posted videos on social media and shared them on WhatsApp groups.

By the times official reached the site, the villagers had already buried the reptile, he said, adding that one of his subordinates had prepared a detailed report into the incident on Saturday after visiting the area. A case would be registered under wildlife conservation laws, he said.

Mr Sajid said his department had consistently run campaigns for the conservation of pythons by urging villagers not to kill the non-venomous reptiles, and this was why the animal’s population had increased in Mirpur division, which comprises Bhimber, Mirpur and Kotli districts.

“Our guards have taken possession of at least seven pythons from different areas of Mirpur division in the past 12 months or so and subsequently released them into their natural habitat in Pir Galli area, some 30 kilometres on the outskirts of Mirpur towards Kotli,” he said.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2022

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