Poisonous Trail

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Kerala, the land of snake gods, snake boats and over 25 snake species, has a new problem: snake venom trafficking. A few weeks ago, a former panchayat member was arrested with two litres of snake venom, estimated to be worth about Rs 20 crore. The price of snake venom has risen due to its importance in drug manufacture, and is estimated to be over Rs 12,000 for a gram of snake venom crystals. The price spike has led to illegal snake farms that breed the creatures only to harvest their venom. This is illegal under the Wildlife Protection Act, which only allows companies making anti-venom products to hold the license for extraction and processing.