A man in China was being investigated for illegal wildlife trafficking after he released 40 kilograms of live snakes into the wild earlier this month.
On April 5, the man put four bags of snakes weighing about 40 kilograms near the Lancang River, also known as the Mekong, in Yunnan province. He set the snaked in one bag free next to the river and opened the other three at a hillside nearby.
News of the man setting the snakes free made the rounds on the internet and local authorities started questioning people about the incident. Preliminary inquiries pointed out that the snakes were juvenile and non-venomous.
After further investigations, it was discovered the man had bought the bulk of snakes for 5,000 Yuan (US$744) from a market in Guangdong. He has since been detained by authorities.
The man’s actions were part of a Buddhist ritual referred to as Fangsheng – an act to release life, where one gains merit and good karma by releasing captive animals back to nature. The man had hoped releasing the snakes would help bring good fortune to his real estate business.
At least 50 forest officers have been charged with recapturing the snakes. So far, they have only caught 12 of them.