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‘Wild’ moves




China has clamped down on the local trade of exotic wild animals cooked as a delicacy or prepared for traditional medicine. The crackdown followed suspicion that bats sold in a Wuhan wet market were the source of the coronavirus that jumped into the human population, spawning a pandemic that has so far infected more than 67 million people and killed more than 1.54 million worldwide.

Denmark followed suit. After an outbreak of the coronavirus among its 15 million minks that are bred for their fur, authorities were recently forced to cull all of them to prevent a new outbreak.

However, in other countries, wildlife trade continues. Either authorities are undermanned in confronting wildlife traders or they still want to reap profits from it.

One such country is Myanmar whose Burmese pythons are coveted by foreign pet lovers. The snakes can be bought from $500 to $750 each, according to an online python store.

Buddhist monk Wilatha is against the trade of pythons. That’s why he took it upon himself to protect these reptiles. The 69-year-old monk accepts and keeps constrictors brought to him at the Seikta Thukha TetOo Monastery in Yangon City.

Instead of killing or selling pythons, people who catch the snakes bring it to Wilatha to gain a blessing from him. In turn, he is able to protect the snakes, which he cares for and feeds himself.
The monk relies on cash donations to sustain the snakes, which he later releases into the forest.

Ironically, in Namibia, authorities conserve the African country’s rich wildlife by selling them. Recently, the government put up an advertisement in a newspaper announcing the sale because the animal population has increased and it would be difficult to protect them against poachers, traffickers and even security personnel protecting residential communities that the animals trespass.

Buyers, however, should know that the animals for sale are 170 elephants. The price per head of pachyderm is not indicated, but according to safari providers that offer game hunting packages to tourists, an elephant hunt costs about 900,000 Namibian dollars, or more than P2.8 million.

Aside from the hefty price, the seller requires the buyer to have a large area where he can keep the animals. Of course, that is understandable because of the size of an elephant.

For interested buyers, they should also be ready to buy a herd and not just one elephant to preserve the important social structure of elephant communities where infants or juveniles are not be left behind.