India

Indian police in Pune hold 'snake venom smugglers'

The snakes were found in wooden boxes and gunny bags stored in the flat. Image copyright Pratibha Walunj
Image caption The snakes were found in wooden boxes and gunny bags stored in the flat

Indian police have arrested two suspected snake venom smugglers in the western state of Maharashtra.

Officers found 70 snakes, including Russell's vipers and cobras, as well as 30ml of snake venom, in a flat where one of the accused lived in Pune.

The snakes were found in wooden boxes and gunny bags and have now been handed to wildlife officials.

Selling snake venom is profitable in parts of India, where keeping protected wildlife in captivity is illegal.

Reports say that some pharmaceutical firms buy snake venom from the black market to develop antidotes.

Police inspector Santosh Giri Gosavi told the Hindustan Times that they raided the flat after receiving credible information.

He said the suspects bought snakes from snake catchers.

"They were used to extract venom, which the duo would sell," he said.