Illegal trade of unique Persian horned viper banned

August 27, 2019

TEHRAN – Illegal trade of spider-tailed horned viper, a unique species of viper endemic to western Iran, has been banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Hamid Zohrabi, deputy Department of Environment (DOE) chief has announced.

Being pushed toward extinction through poaching, the spider-tailed horned viper has been discovered in 2006. The venomous snake has a unique tail that has a bulb-like end bordered by long drooping scales that give it the appearance of a spider, which is waved around and used to lure insectivorous birds to within striking range.

There is no accurate statistics of spider-tailed horned viper population due to lack of precise studies to determine the number of species, but it is spotted in the province of Ilam and is also found in the provinces of Kermanshah and Lorestan.The 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CITES CoP18 took place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 17-28 August 2019, through which Iran’s proposal to add rare spider-tailed horned viper on the Convention’s Appendix II have been accepted.

Following the CITES mission designed to protect endangered species against illegal trade, and based on the international demand for such illegal trade, the CITES office in Iran set out to send a proposal to the Convention Secretariat to add spider-tailed horned viper on the Convention’s list and thus prevent its illegal trade in early March.

Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction; trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.

So, any trade of the species is permitted only with the CITES’s permission, and all 183 member parties are obliged to control the ports and prevent the trade of this viper, Zohrabi said, ISNA reported on Tuesday.

There is no accurate statistics of spider-tailed horned viper population due to lack of precise studies to determine the number of species, but it is spotted in the province of Ilam and is also found in the provinces of Kermanshah and Lorestan.

Spider-tailed horned viper was declared endangered by the DOE in November 2018.

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