Tuesday, 26 July 2016

A village here has been rocked by the mystery of 16 pythons

Snake video causing anxiety

Fear factor: Voluntary firemen preparing to look for the snakes in Sungai Lembu. (Inset) A Facebook posting showing the pythons let loose.


BUKIT MERTAJAM: A village here has been rocked by the mystery of 16 pythons that seemed to have pulled a Houdini act.

It all began when a video clip and photographs went viral, showing a group of men releasing the snakes at a place that were said to be an oil palm plantation in Sungai Lembu on July 18.

A furore ensued from trekkers and residents who were concerned about their safety.

One of the men has now come forward, claiming that the snakes were not released in Sungai Lembu or anywhere else in Penang.

The man, who only wanted to be known as Goey, refused to say where the pythons were released.

“We wanted to keep quiet about the matter but for the past one week, people have been condemning our act, which was done in good faith,” he said.

They bought the snakes from a pet shop on July 16 and released them as an act of goodwill.

Goey said the money used to buy the snakes came from donations from Buddhists, some from as far as China.

A Facebook posting showing the pythons let loose.

“We only helped them fulfil their wish to buy animals in captivity and release them to their natural habitat,” he added.

However, the video clip, which showed the men opening some sacks and releasing the medium-sized snakes, had caused anxiety in Sungai Lembu, which is a 20-minute drive from Bukit Mertajam.

Retired car dealer Tang Ching Swee, 51, who is an avid hiker, said: “We have about 100 members who would trek on different trails in Sungai Lembu almost every day.”

“The trails connect to Cherok To’Kun Forest Reserve where hundreds of hikers go daily,” said Tang, who has been hiking for the past two decades.

Rubber estate worker Chin Tee Aun, 51, also shared his concerns about being in the estate.

“As rubber tappers, we would enter the area sometimes twice daily; in the morning and late evening. We have not encountered any pythons but now we are very wary of every step we take,” he said.

Another resident Tan Sing Lee, 56, said the 500 villagers were worried for the safety of their children.

Some of the villagers also helped orchard owners to collect fruits such as durians, he added.

Sungai Lembu JKKK secretary Yeo Keng Chuan said that voluntary firemen together with villagers searched four areas around the oil palm estate on Sunday but found nothing.

“We tried to trace the location based on the background seen in the video clip but we were not able to determine the exact spot.”

When contacted, central Sebe­rang Prai Buddhist Association chairman Tan Jee Peng explained that Buddhists believed in doing good by releasing animals especially birds, fish and tortoises, during festivals.

He said the snakes should not have been released in populated places.

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