Mystery deepens after giant snake skin found in park
AN ENORMOUS python's skin that was discovered in a Cairns park may have been smuggled into Australia.
Many theories have surfaced on social media about the origins of the 7m long python skin, found lying on the grass by Redlynch resident Stuart Morris in Ryan Weare Park at Freshwater Park, last week, including it possibly being a zoo escapee, or an unwanted exotic pet.
The skin, which appeared to have been freshly cut from a snake, was initially thought to be from a scrub python but later identified as belonging to a reticulated python.
The reticulated python is native to the jungles of South East Asia, the Philippines and parts of the Indonesian archipelago, and regarded as one of the world's longest snake species.
The Department of Environment and Water has records of only three live reticulated pythons being approved for import into Australia, for non-commercial exhibition purposes, since June 2005.
Only one of those snakes was approved for Queensland, however it is understood that animal remained in the state's southeast.
The Cairns Tropical Zoo, which shut down in 2015, had a reticulated python on display, however that animal was transferred to Hartley's Crocodile Adventures at Wangetti, where it is still currently being exhibited.
The Department of Environment's spokesman said it was not aware of any live reticulated pythons being kept - legally - as pets in Cairns.
He said the species represented a major biosecurity threat to Australia.
"Pythons species, including the reticulated python, are considered to be highly invasive and pose a significant threat to the Australian environment," he said.
"The importation of python species into Australia is only permitted into high security facilities such as zoos and similar institutions," he said.
"The related Burmese python has become established in the south east of the United States, particularly Florida, and have been linked to severe impacts on the ecosystems in this region."
Python skin is regarded as a hot commodity in South-East Asia, where the value of the trade sector has been estimated to be worth $1 billion per annum.
The skins are used mostly for fashion items, with raw skins fetching $US100 each, according to the International Trade Centre.