India Snake Hunters Find Antidote to Joblessness

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Other institutions produce venom by extracting it repeatedly from each snake until the animal dies.

At the cooperative, the snakes are weighed, measured, sexed and marked to prevent premature recapture. The snakes are held in captivity for only three weeks with one venom extraction per week. Then they are returned to the wild and the mortality in the center is less than one percent.

Gerry Martin, a herpetologist based in Bangalore, who has been a consultant for the National Geographic Channel in India, said, "the Irula community was saved by this endeavor. They were solely dependent on the skin industry for their income. After it became illegal they had a very specialized skill but no way of using it. The cooperative gave them a chance to hold on to their traditional skill while also making a living."

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