The forest department has begun an inquiry into a case wherein an Indian Rock Python was handled roughly for several hours by local youths in the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday in Hanuman Tekdi in Borivali.
The youth were seen kicking and roughly shoving the python into a gunny bag. The snake later went missing.
Indian Rock Pythons are classified under Schedule I, that is, considered highly endangered under the Wildlife Protection Act. Range forest officer Santhosh Kank said they have taken two youths of the group in custody and are investigating the matter. In offences involving species under Schedule 1, the accused have to be produced before a court.
In videos and photos of the incident that went viral, the youths are seen forcibly dragging the around eight-foot-long python from under metal and wooden debris amid rain where it had taken shelter after being shooed away from near a shop.
The videos are said to be clicked by someone part of the group. The youths are seen posing in photographs with the reptile over their necks. In another video, they can be seen kicking it and roughly shoving it into a gunny bag.
After receiving photos and videos of the incident, Honorary wildlife warden Sunish Subramanian, also secretary, Plants and Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) addressed a letter on Thursday to the range forest officer urging him to investigate the matter.
The letter said that the act seen in photographs and video is clearly a violation of the Wildlife Protection Act as well as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and as the faces of the youths are clearly seen, necessary action be taken against them.
Subramanian said volunteers of PAWS had managed to trace two of the youths seen in the video and photos. The youths claimed to have released the snake, he said.
Forest official Kank said they are inquiring into the incident and will decide on the further course of action.