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Thirsty six-feet-long snake leads to panic among tourists at Taj Mahal

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Taj Mahal
Is Taj Maha just a 'cemetery'? Pixabay
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Agra, May 16, 2017: An unexpected visitor slithering through the shrubs in the gardens around the Taj Mahal, in search of a water and a cool place, led to panic among tourists at the 17th-century monument on Tuesday, officials said. The snake was later captured by wildlife experts.

As soon as tourists saw the six-foot-long reptile, there were shrieks and shouts for help.

The snake was found hiding under a water cooler in the water filtration plant and Archaeological Survey of India officials immediately contacted Wildlife SOS.

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ASI Senior Conservation Assistant Munazzar Ali said: “There are four RO plants inside Taj Mahal to ensure proper water supply for public water taps. As soon as the snake was spotted inside the plant, considering safety of tourists and workers, we immediately contacted Wildlife SOS for their assistance.”

The team from Wildlife SOS, which reached the spot, identified it a harmless rat snake, feeding mostly on birds and rodents.

The plant was stopped, workers and curious tourists moved to a safe distance before Wildlife SOS activists started the rescue process. After an hour long operation, the team managed to successfully extricated the reptile and moved it safely in to a transport container.

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“The severe heat must have driven this snake in search for water and a cool place. We thank ASI and the officials of the Taj Mahal for considering the safety of the tourists and the snake and contacting Wildlife SOS.

“Such sensitive rescue operations require expert staff to address these situations as well as patience and a high degree of skill. The rescued snake was kept in observation for some time after which it was released back in to its natural habitat,” said Wildlife SOS’ Director, Conservation Projects, Baiju Raj M.V. (IANS)

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USA And Other Countries Pledge To Eradicate Illegal Wildlife Trade

The real test is how quickly they will act on those words.

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illegal wildlife trade
Thai Navy officers and forestry officials display seized dead tigers, leopards and pangolins in That Phanom district of Nakhon Phanom province, northeastern Thailand. VOA

The United States and dozens of other countries have pledged to work together to tackle the illegal wildlife trade and treat it as a “serious and organized crime” following a two-day conference in London that ended Friday.

Trade in endangered wildlife, such as elephant tusks, rhino horns and tiger bones, is worth an estimated $17 billion a year and is pushing hundreds of species to the brink of extinction.

Speaking to heads of state from across the world, Britain’s Prince William, a passionate conservationist, said he recognized that law enforcement resources are already stretched in many countries.

illegal wildlife trade
Britain’s Prince William gestures as he makes speech at the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London. VOA

“But I am asking you to see the connections, to acknowledge that the steps you take to tackle illegal wildlife crime could make it easier to halt the shipments of guns and drugs passing through your borders,” the prince told delegates.

Worldwide, the illegal wildlife trade is booming.

Illegal ivory trade activity has more than doubled since 2007, while over 1,300 rhino were killed in 2015. Asian tigers have seen a 95 percent decline in population, as their body parts are in demand for Chinese medicines and wine. In the last year, more than 100 wildlife rangers have died trying to tackle poachers.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the conference the U.S. will give $90 million to programs that fight illegal wildlife traffickers.

illegal wildlife trade
Seized wild birds are seen inside a cage at a news conference by police officers following a bust on illegal wildlife trade, in Kunming, Yunnan province, China. VOA

“Their criminal acts harm communities, degrade institutions, destabilize our environment and funnel billions of dollars to those who perpetuate evil in the world. These criminals must be and they can be stopped,” Sessions said.

It is not only big mammals at risk.

For example, a critically endangered water frog from the remote Lake Titicaca in Peru has seen its numbers plummet in recent years, as thousands have been trapped and taken to make a juice that some believe has medicinal properties, despite no scientific evidence.

Delegates at the conference applauded progress made, including China’s decision at the beginning of this year to close its domestic ivory market, hailed as a major step in safeguarding the world elephant population.

Aron White of the Britain-based Environmental Investigation Agency says other animals need similar protection.

“This market was both stimulating demand for ivory and also enabling illegal ivory to be laundered through this legal trade,” White told VOA. “But that same issue still exists for big cats. You know, there’s a trade in leopard bone products [for example], large-scale commercial trade.”

Campaigners say existing United Nations Conventions on transnational organized crime offer firepower for tackling the illegal wildlife trade, but they are not being used effectively.

In the closing declaration, conference attendees pledged to work together to tackle the illegal wildlife trade and recognize it as a serious and organized crime.

Also Read: Salman Khan Sentenced to Five Years In Poaching Case, Others Acquitted

The real test is how quickly they will act on those words. (VOA)