Trade in python snakes and python products
Report no: 2023:17
The majority of the python species which VKM has assessed will not be harmed by trade. For some species, trade will reduce their ability to survive in the wild. It is trade of the animals that contributes to declining populations.
This is the conclusion reached by VKM in a risk assessment of the effects of international trade in pythons and python products. The assessment was carried out at the request of the Norwegian Environment Agency.
The risk assessment is limited to the 17 species that have been imported and/or exported from Norway since 2010. It includes species in the genera Apodora, Aspidites, Liasis, Malayopython, Morelia, and Python.
According to VKM, the species Apodora papuana, Aspidites melanocephalus, Liasis mackloti, Malayopython reticulatus, Morelia bredli, Morelia spilota, Morelia viridis, Python anchietae, Python bivittatus, Python breitensteini, Python brongersmai, and Python curtus will not be harmed by trade. For the species Python regius and Python sebae, the harm or lack thereof will vary depending on the region the snakes come from.
According to VKM, trade will be detrimental to the species Morelia boeleni.
Python molurus is listed under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This means that buying and selling of this species is prohibited.
VKM cannot assess Malayopython timoriensis due to insufficient data.
"There are significant data gaps, mainly regarding populations, trends, and illegal trade. This affects the level of uncertainty in the assessments," says Hugo de Boer, scientific leader of the project group. He points out that population and trade data were over ten years old, for many of the species.
"Therefore, they may not reflect the current situation for these species," says de Boer.
The risk assessment has been approved by VKM's Panel for CITES.