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Zoo pythons freed into eco-reserve

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Provincial environment department officials release pythons into the Phat Sanday conservation area. PURSAT ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT

Zoo pythons freed into eco-reserve

More than 80 pythons were transported from the Phnom Tamao Zoological Park and Wildlife Rescue Centre for release into the Phat Sanday Fisheries Conservation Area in Pursat province’s Kandieng district.

Nhek Rattanapich, director of the centre, said on October 17 that his officials, in cooperation with the Fisheries Administration, Department of Environment, military sub-region and Kandieng district police, released the 85 pythons into the conservation area.

He said the snakes were caught by the officials and residents at homes and other locations and sent to the centre for a checkup and care. After making sure the pythons were not injured or sick, they were sent to the conservation area.

“All the pythons had been sent from around the country, including Phnom Penh and other provinces. Sometimes, the snakes had got into homes, sometimes into plantations, and sometimes people just spotted them and sent them to us. We check to see if there are any health problems before releasing them,” he said.

He continued that the centre had previously released pythons into many places, such as the Central Cardamom Mountains, lakes, streams and canals. This time, the Tonle Sap Lake was chosen as a new home for the reptiles.

“The living conditions there are very favourable. There is also a fishery conservation area where the water has now receded. But there are trees and freshwater mangroves, so they can live and find food there. After about a month, the water will recede more and there is a lot of space in that place,” Rattanapich said.

Cambodian biodiversity researcher Khieu Rachana said on October 17 that certain species of pythons lived in the Tonle Sap Lake, others on land and some in the highlands. It is sometimes difficult to classify them. So, if the snakes are released without examination, it can present a survival risk.

“We put them there because we think it is good for them. But we are not always sure if they can move to another place safely,” he said. “When the conditions are not favourable, it is wrong for them to live there. They sometimes have no food and no suitable place to live.”

Rachana said pythons were not very sensitive to location. It is important that their biological characteristics are suited to the living environment, he explained.

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