Serpents in jars: the snake wine industry in Vietnam

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R. Somaweera
N. Somaweera


Exploitation of snakes in Vietnam takes place for different purposes, and among them the snake wine industry is prominent but has received far less attention than other dealings, such as the pet trade. Despite widespread commercialisation there is a general lack of information about this snake trade, which makes it difficult to evaluate its magnitude and impact on snake populations. This study documents the use of snakes in snake wine in four cities in Vietnam through surveys conducted in 127 locations selling snake wine in September 2009. This study provides a list of species used along with the number of individuals observed. While none of the species involved are listed in the IUCN Red List, seven species are listed in the Vietnam Red Data Book, of which five are regulated by CITES. On the other hand, the most abundant species used in the trade, Xenochrophis flavipunctatus, is not listed in any conservation document. The popularity and economic importance of snakes in the form of snake wine demonstrates the need for the development of sustainable use programs for these species.

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Author Biographies

R. Somaweera

Ruchira Somaweera is a PhD research student at University of Sydney working on the ecology and conservation of freshwater crocodiles in the East Kimberley region.

N. Somaweera

Nilusha Somaweera is a research associate at the USTERF in Darwin and is assisting an array of research projects on the impact of invasive cane toads on Australian herpetofauna.