Nigeria is making a fortune from the export of snakes to England as the management of the Snakebite Treatment and Research Centre, Kaltungo in Gombe State, reveals that over 400 snakes of different species are exported from the centre to Liverpool every month.
Head of the centre, Dr. Abubakar Ballah, told newsmen in Kaltungo on Thursday that the exported snakes serve as raw materials for the production of anti-snake venom in England.
According to Ballah, “the manufacturers extract the venom from the snakes to produce the drugs,” adding because the raw material for processing the anti-snake venom is sourced from Nigeria, it made the drugs cheaper in the country than others.
Ballah explained that countries which do not supply the raw material buy a single vial of the drug for $1,900, about N684,000, while the same drug sells for N35,000 in Nigeria.
He said that the same drug in the United States (US) for rattle snake that undergoes the same production process costs between N7million and N8million.
Ballah said that the centre engages people within Kaltungo and its environs to catch the snakes and package same, at the cost of N500 or N1, 000 per snake, depending on the size.
The official said that the snakes were usually taken to Abuja from Kaltungo, from where they are packaged and exported to England.
He said: “On arrival in England, they will undergo some screening to ensure they have not suffered because Animal Rights Organisations are on the watch; after following the process, drug production commences.”
Kaltungo town in Kaltungo Local Government Area of Gombe, popularly called the “Snake Haven” lies within the Snake belt region of Northern Nigeria, and is known for its abundance of different species of snakes.
The common species found in the area are Carpet Viper, Puff Adder and Cobra. (NAN)