Rare spider-tailed horned viper spotted in western Iran

July 11, 2020 - 17:5

TEHRAN – Spider-tailed horned vipers, unique species of viper endemic to western Iran being pushed toward extinction through poaching, was spotted in the western province of Kermanshah, the provincial department of environment chief has announced.

Experts in Kermanshah province recorded the image of the viper while monitoring a protected area in Gilan-e Gharb city, IRNA quoted Fereydoun Yavari as saying on Saturday.

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 are no accurate statistics of spider-tailed horned viper population, but it is spotted in the province of Ilam, Kermanshah, and Lorestan. To date, there have been no reports of spider-tailed horned viper being discovered in other countries.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has banned illegal trade of spider-tailed horned viper in August 2019.

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.

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


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