Pet-eating Hong Kong python killed despite appeals from captor and victim
Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department says 4.3-metre snake had kidney problems and was put to sleep for humane reasons
A 4.3-metre long dog-eating python whose capture in Sai Kung Country Park was viewed more than 150,000 times on Facebook has been destroyed despite appeals for its life to be spared.
A video of the Burmese python being captured by Dave Willott, 50, went viral after it attacked and hospitalised rugby player Karl Davies while he walked his pet dogs on a popular trail on June 15.
Briton Davies, who weighs 107kg and plays rugby with the Potbellied Pigs team in Kowloon, spent six hours in hospital after the python ambushed him, biting his leg and slashing his fingers as he tried to prise its jaws off him.
Despite his injuries, Davies, 49, returned to the scene of the attack 48 hours later with Willott and helped catch the 23kg python – one of the biggest captured in recent years in Hong Kong.
The python – nicknamed Kaa by Davies and Willott after the Jungle Book character – is believed to be responsible for a string of fatal attacks on pet dogs in recent years and was handed over to Kadoorie Farm.
Davies and Willott appealed for the female python to be kept alive, but Kaa was in fact euthanised a little over a fortnight after its capture, the Sunday Morning Post learned.
Video copyright Simon Parry, Red Door News
A spokeswoman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said in a statement: “The Burmese python captured in Pak Tam Chung in June was sent to Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden for observation.
“The veterinarian there found that the python was an old snake and was relatively thin and weak, and lacked interest in eating. A number of tests were carried out to check its health condition, and it was found to have been suffering from kidney impairment, which was probably age-related.
“Due to its deteriorating health condition, the python was put to sleep early this month for welfare and humane reasons.”
The decision to destroy Kaa came despite appeals from both Davies and Willott to keep the python alive and to use her in educational programmes.
Willott – who like Davies was not informed of the AFCD’s decision – called for a re-examination of the policy of relocating “problem” snakes in future.
While he accepted Kaa needed to be relocated because of its long history of attacking pet dogs along the trail, the veteran snake catcher said he believed snakes were too often moved unnecessarily.
Evidence suggested that relocating snakes often led to their deaths as they were unable to survive in unfamiliar locations, he said.
“When I offered my services to the police 20 years ago, I naively thought I was doing a good thing,” said Willott.
“Unfortunately all I have done is condemn hundreds of snakes to a slow death from starvation.
“The AFCD will not allow any python, no matter how big or small, to be released back where it was caught. At least Kaa was euthanised painlessly and didn’t starve to death.
“I would consider it a small victory if we could get them to change their minds and allow Kadoorie Farm to release some of the smaller ones back where they were caught – or even larger ones caught in more remote areas or country parks.”
Willott called on people to be more accepting of snakes, and not to seek their removal except in exceptional circumstances.
“Kaa is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “If you feel sorry for her loss, complain to the AFCD and put pressure on them to review their policy on the release of snakes – and think twice before calling the police for a so-called problem snake.”
AFCD policy is for captured pythons to be relocated and tagged to monitor their movements in a long-term project to determine the effects of relocation.
Only limited results have been collected so far, but they are understood to indicate that pythons will generally try to return to their original territory after relocation.