REPORT #14 1998

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Belizean snake product exporters are in big trouble in the cane fields of the north.

Gramazone a chemical used in cane fields, kills rats. Without rats there are fewer snakes. An unscientific survey, but subjective study done by snake collectors and exporters from northern Belize, say that the snake population has severely declined. Also that fish in Corozal Bay, a nursery for the whole northern half of Belize's fisheries system, from English Caye northward have similarly disappeared. Chetumal Bay around Corozal and the rivers flowing into it, are the crustacean, micro plankton and shrimp nursery which are at the bottom of the food chain for all other species in the northern half of Belize, that breed and grow up in the swamps, rivers, creeks and lagoons of northern Belize then migrate southward during the rainy season runoffs, via Chetumal Bay when water salinity changes.

Frogs are also gone in the northern districts, so say the snake collectors.

This ecological disaster is blamed on the chemicals used in cane farm production. These chemicals filter into the ground water, then to the streams and then the rivers that flow into Chetumal Bay; which in turn send all the baby juvenile fish species and lobster out to the lower cayes and northern fisheries of Belize. Or they used to!

Snake buyers are paying $10 a pound for fresh whole snake, $20 a pound for dead snakes and $150 a pound for dried snake. Most wanted is the Tzabcan rattler. The demand from Europe is increasing exponentially, for this snake's anti-cancer remedies.

Snake exporter/buyers are now wondering if they can get anybody interested in snake ranching, in particular the Tzabcan rattler? The market is unlimited they say.

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