For most people just an encounter with the word “snake” in an article or an image on a television screen could send them running.
Yet for others, hunting snakes is not a big deal but a great way to earn a living.
However, if you are “snake phobia”, then you would develop goose pimples upon seeing Mr Enoch K. Martey at the Pokuase ACP Junction with snakes writhing on his arms as he waits for potential buyers.
Occasionally, one of his unusual merchandise lifts its head, flicks its tongue and wriggles as Mr Martey shouts to attract buyers.
How it began
Thirty-eight-year-old Martey is a former trapper with the Game and Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission where he and his colleagues caught snakes for 11 years for export.
When Mr Martey lost his job as a trapper, he decided to utilise his skills to go into the wildlife business, which has become a “money making machine” in his life since last year.
In an interview with The Mirror, Mr Martey said he trapped snakes such as Royal Pythons, cobras etc for sale.
Asked how he traps them, Mr Martey said most people think he has gone for a special spiritual gift, but interestingly, the only tool he uses in his trade is just a hoe and a schoolbag in which he keeps the snakes.
The ‘snake man’ travels to various places such as Koforidua, Aflao, Kasoa, Nsawam, Amasaman, Adawso, and sometimes Togo, to hunt for snakes.
Aside trapping of snakes, he also gathers their eggs which he nurtures till they hatch.
According to him, some of his customers prefer the neonates (baby snakes) for export.
“Because of this business, a lot of my friends and even my own family members think I am mad but the only person who really understands me and my kind of job is my wife, Ama,” Mr Martey said.
Prices of snakes
Mr Martey said the price ranges from GH¢50 to GH¢500 depending on the size of the snake, the nature of the customer or how badly the customer needs the snake.
According to him, the highest sale he has ever made was when he sold a snake for GH¢1,500 last February.
However, he was quick to add that on days when business is not good, he runs promotion for the customers which he described as “buy one, get one free”.
“People buy snakes for various reasons. Some patronise it for food, keep them as pets, or use it for magic and shows,” he added.
What the law says
According to the Assistant Public Relations Officer of the Game and Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission, Mr Joseph Yaw Oppong, hunting snakes is only illegal when one does not have a permit or licence to hunt or trap wildlife.
“Hunters are even aware of this, and each animal species comes with a price. Anyone who wants to engage in wildlife business must obtain a licence,” Mr Oppong said.
He explained that a person could be prosecuted if he/she is caught without a permit.
He therefore advised the general public who wished to get into serious wildlife business to acquire licence from the division.