martes, 27 de agosto de 2013


By Gundhramns Hammer
August 27, 2013

Nigeria´s snake market. Source: Google Images.

When human greediness, economic interests, human population growth and ecological shortsightedness or blindness, sometimes along with hunger (food, status), meet the results can be very devastating on any nonhuman species that happens to stand in the way of any economic development scheme devised by man (Homo insapiens).

This is exactly has is happening to the snakes in Nigeria. People are hunting down and selling these squamate reptiles in such vast numbers (Video 1) in the local markets as if their snake populations were to last forever, as if snake numbers were infinite. 

Should this rate of destruction continue soon there will not be a single snake left. And as a result, the natural equilibrium will be shattered, for snakes play an important role in the control of other animal species such as pests (rodents). Pests from man´s economical point of view.

Since pest control is expensive, therefore the ecological services provided by snakes in natural ecosystems are very important. The price tag has yet to be determined. Undoubtedly the figures will surely be in billions of US dollars. And these services are free of charge! 

Nigerian conservationists, please take note and do something to protect the snakes before it is too late.

To give you an idea of what is happening to snakes in Nigeria, here is a BattaBox clip (Video 1) and its text:

Source: YouTube
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BattaBox heads down to the Nigeria Snake Market! While most people are rightly scared of snakes and their poisonous venom - for Nigerians and African Food - they can make a tasty dish.

"They sell snakes here!" explains Odunayo, our BattaBox presenter. "Nigerians - we sabi chop things o!"

Enormous bags of hundreds of different shapes, lengths and sizes of snakes - and customers (mostly women who own restaurants) all rush to the bags and grab as many as they can as fast as they can - before they are sold out. The Snake market is just outside of Lagos in Badagry.

"They bring the snakes from the Republic of Benin," says Bati who has been selling it in the Badagry market (near Nigeria's border with Benin) for many years now. And customers come from across South-West Nigeria like Ondo and Oyo state to buy.

"People really love snake! They come from far and wide to eat!" says one young woman is buying a large bag, full of snakes - "We buy from here and then use it to cook as Pepper Soup... its tastes to delicious and sweet - it tastes like fish."

One large snake can cost up to 1400 Naira ($9) and the small snake can cost as little as 500 Naira ($3). Eating snake is popularly thought of as good for the body - "if you eat snake, you will get more strength and look more healthy," Odunayo explains.

However, a recent study found that the snake population is crashing in Nigeria.

The causes are not known and similar severe declines in populations were found in the UK, France and Italy... but eating snakes in such numbers surely cannot help. And such declines, say environmentalists, has a massive ecological impact with considerable biodiversity loss.

But Odunayo buys her own snake to take home for her own favorite African food - pepper soup.

                                                       Video 1. Nigeria´s snake market.

It is important to let the government know your concern for the poorly managed populations of snakes in Nigeria. 

Future generations of Nigerians might not be able to see ophidians in the splendor of nature. Although most people are afraid of snakes we must remember that they are also our brethren. 

We all share the same planet. We humans are not the owners of Earth. We are just one species amongst thousands. Unfortunately we as a whole are not doing a good job in the upkeep of the Biosphere.

Please drop an E-mail to the Nigerian minister of Environment. 

Here is the information:

Honourable Minister of Environment Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim 

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Akinpelu& Areo A. (2007). The Snakes of Osun Grove: A World Heritage Site in Osogbo, Nigeria. Rev. Viol. Tropi. (Int. J. Trop. Biol.), 55 (2): 717-721.

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