Pune: Over 70 snakes mostly deadly Russell's vipers and cobras illegally kept for extracting venom have been seized from a residential apartment where a man was living with his wife and children.
Ranjit Kharage, 37, was arrested along with his alleged accomplice, identified as Dhananjay Belkute, 30, for allegedly keeping the snakes in wooden boxes and gunny bags for extracting and selling venom, police said today.
The seizure was made yesterday from the rented apartment of Kharage, where he was living with his family.
"We recovered 41 Russell's vipers and 31 cobras from one of the rooms in the flat and investigations have revealed that the duo allegedly extracted venom from these reptiles and used to sell or smuggle it," said a police inspector, attached to Chakan Police station.
A case has been registered against the duo under relevant sections of Wildlife Protection Act, he said.
According to police, they received a tip off on Sunday that snakes had been kept in a flat in the outskirts of Chakan, following which a team of police raided the place.
"When we went there, Kharage was not at home. However, his wife and children were present. We found that the snakes were kept in wooden boxes and gunny bags in the flat and even children knew about it," said the police officer.
Since it was dark, the search team evicted the occupants and locked the house, all snakes were seized the next morning.
"Investigations revealed that the duo used to get snakes from jungles and even from snake catchers in the area for venom extraction and smuggling," he said.
Police also found some venom stored in small bottles in the possession of the two.
All the seized snakes will be handed over to forest officials, police added. —PTI