Jamaican boa a protected species

An article in Jamaica’s Gleaner about recipes that used exotic species as their main ingredients prompted the following letter to the editor, reminding readers of the protected status of the Jamaican boa, and by extension, of the endangered status of most—if not all—Caribbean snakes. Here’s what the reader had to say:

The [Jamaican] National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), wishes to respond to the article in the Food section of The Gleaner, Thursday, April 29, titled Weird Foods, specifically to the Snake Eaters Stew recipe. The article used an image of the endangered Jamaican Boa (Yellow Snake or Nanka) to illustrate the reference made to snakes as a delicacy.

The agency wishes to remind the public that the Jamaican boa is a protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act (1945). Therefore, it is illegal to harm, capture, kill or have a Jamaican boa in one’s possession. Persons found in possession of or any by-product of the Jamaican yellow snake, can be prosecuted under the Wild life Protection Act and can be imprisoned for up to 12 months or fined $100,000.

The yellow snake is endemic to Jamaica. This means it is found nowhere else in the world. Like all Jamaican snakes, they are not poisonous. They feed mainly on rats, birds, bats, lizards, toads and insects. Their population has declined rapidly due to habitat destruction, hunting by mongoose, dogs and cats and unprovoked killings by people.

If the snake is seen in the forest, observe it from a distance and do not disturb it. If it is encountered in a home or outside of its forest habitat, contact NEPA at: 1-888-991-5005, 1-888-991-5005 and 754-7540 or your local police station. Please report breaches to the Wildlife Protection Act to the Police.

The letter appeared at http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20100506/cook/cook3.html

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