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Florida Recruits Indian Snake Trackers to Hunt Everglades Pythons

Jan 25, 2017 11:37 AM EST

In an effort to control one of the biggest invasive reptile problems that has ever existed in the planet, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission employed the help of two tribesmen from Southern India to track Burmese pythons lurking in Florida's Everglades.

According to the report from Miami Herald, the two men were members of the known snake-hunters, Irula tribe. Masi Sadaiyan and Vadivel Gopal, both in their 50s, arrived early January and have been going into the Everglades almost daily since then.

"The Irula tribesmen, located in southern India, are world renowned for their ability to catch snakes," said Frank Mazzotti, a professor of wildlife ecology at University of Florida in a press release. "I heard about them through an acquaintance, Rom Whitaker, who lives in India and works with the tribesmen. He recommended that I work with the Irula to find the Burmese python in the Everglades, and five years later we finally made it happen."

So far, the pair has caught 14 pythons in just two weeks of their stay. Their catch includes an astonishing 16-foot female python that was holed up in the old Nike missile base ruins on Key Largo and four more from the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

The high prevalence of Burmese pythons in Florida's Everglades has become a major problem ever since they became established in the area nearly two decades ago. Researchers believe that these pythons are responsible for the decline in the population of native mammals living in the Everglades.

This is not the first time that the federal officials seek outside help for the eradication of the python population in their region. Last year, the state of Florida launched the "Python Challenge" that lured in over 1,000 hunters, mostly amateurs. In just a month, the hunters caught 106 of the snakes. Approximately 200 pythons are being caught in Florida annually.

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