South Florida is so plagued with invasive Burmese pythons taking over the Everglades and other wild places that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has hired special Indian snake hunters to use their special skills in diminishing the giant reptiles.
Irula natives from India accompanied by hunting dogs and Everglades Park officials have caught 13 pythons in eight days, including a female snake measuring 16 feet long.
“Since the Irula have been so successful in their homeland at removing pythons, we are hoping they can teach Floridians some of these skills,” explained Kristen Sommers, leader of the FWC’s Wildlife Impact Management Section.
“We are working with our partners to improve our ability to find and capture pythons in the wild. These projects are two of several new efforts focusing on the removal of these snakes.”
Burmese pythons are one of the largest snakes in the world, introduced when Florida pet owners either lost their snakes or intentionally released them into the wild.
Burmese pythons are a native Southeast Asian species, and since being introduced to the wilds of Florida, they’ve become a formidable invasive species in the region, thanks to a lack of predators.
By preying on native wildlife and competing with other native predators, pythons are seriously impacting the natural order of south Florida’s ecological communities
The continued proliferation of Burmese pythons–and the continued introduction of new foreign species–can further threaten many of Florida’s endangered plants and animals.
Thousands of pythons have been removed from the Everglades and the surrounding area, but the problem is getting worse.
The FWC has now turned to the people who are revered as some of the best snake catchers in the world, Irula tribesmen.
The Irula are an ethnic population from India’s Tamil Nadu and Kerala states, whose prime source of income is catching rats and snakes–two creatures that cause a lot of trouble for people in their homeland.
Since these individuals have grown up and made their livings hunting and catching snakes, Florida officials asked for their help in fighting the problem in Florida.