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Python breitensteini

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA PYTHONIDAE

Scientific Name: Python breitensteini
Species Authority: Steindachner, 1881
Common Name(s):
English Bornean Short-tailed Python
Synonym(s):
Python curtus subspecies breitensteini Steindachner, 1881
Taxonomic Notes: The species was previously considered as a subspecies of Python curtus. Other members of the "Python curtus group" are now considered as distinct species (Keogh et al. 2001, Rawlings et al. 2008, Zug et al. 2011); P. curtus in western Sumatra, P. brongersmai in the remainder of Sumatra and in mainland Southeast Asia, P. breitensteini from Borneo, and P. kyaiktiyo from Myanmar. The occurrence, origin and taxonomic status of members of the P. curtus group in Indochina, presently assigned to P. brongersmai, is uncertain (Zug et al. 2011). The separation of this species is supported by differences in scalation and colouration as well as by DNA analysis and geography (Keogh et al. 2001, Rawlings et al. 2008).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2011-08-29
Assessor(s): Inger, R.F., Iskandar, D., Lilley, R., Jenkins, H. & Das, I.
Reviewer(s): Bowles, P. & Auliya, M.
Contributor(s): De Silva, R., Milligan, HT, Wearn, O.R., Wren, S., Zamin, T., Sears, J., Wilson, P., Lewis, S., Lintott, P. & Powney, G.
Justification:
The species is listed as Least Concern because it has adapted to man-made habitats and is widely distributed in Borneo. If there is a change in the current management of agricultural lands towards more effective pest control methods and if present harvest levels of this species are maintained, this may impact this species detrimentally and its conservation status would need to be reviewed. Similarly, further loss of natural habitat may also impact on the status of this species, hence ongoing monitoring is required.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Python breitensteini is a lowland species that has not yet been recorded from altitudes higher than 1,000 m asl. Based on both historical and relatively recent records the species is likely to be present throughout the entire island of Borneo in both the Malaysian and Indonesia territories, as well as Brunei (one record from Brunei; specimen number from Museum of Brunei BM 142.1974), with the exception of the central highlands above its maximum upper altitude. Records are known from scattered sites across the entire island.
Countries:
Native:
Brunei Darussalam; Indonesia (Kalimantan); Malaysia (Sabah, Sarawak)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The species is often considered as rare or uncommon throughout its pristine habitat, and it is always associated to various degrees with extensive agricultural lands.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species occurs in moist areas with soft soils, where this nocturnal snake hides in rodent burrows during the day. In wetter habitats, the python prefers to use slightly elevated burrows (M. Auliya pers. comm. March 2012). It is found in lowland forest, but due to its nocturnal habits and choice of shelter sites is uncommonly encountered in these habitats. The snake is most frequently encountered in agricultural lands, both croplands and plantations (including oil palm, coconut and cocoa), adjacent to forested areas (M. Auliya pers. comm. September 2011). A strong swimmer, the snake may use irrigation canals and other water-bodies to move, and there are historical reports of this python from wetlands (M. Auliya pers. comm. March 2012). The Bornean short-tailed Python is, however, a fully terrestrial snake and so requires areas with some land to persist as a viable population (M. Auliya pers. comm. March 2012).
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The species is widely collected all over Borneo for its skin and meat, and is involved in the international pet trade (Auliya 2006). In Indonesia, most snake collectors are searching for snakes as a supplementary source of income, as this does not provide enough to support daily needs. The total level of exploitation is believed to be increasing and have become larger than the maximum quota allowed (the annual export quota for Kalimantan in 2011 is 10,800 skins and 1,620 individuals for international pet trade). All specimens harvested for trade, for all purposes, are derived from agricultural lands, including plantations. The species has been observed to be sold for food for local consumption in local markets in Sarawak, Borneo (I. Das pers. obs 2011). There is evidence of cross-border trade of this species between the provinces of East Malaysia and Indonesia (M. Auliya pers. comm. September 2011).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threat to this species is the hunting pressure for skins and the pet trade. Meat is also a by-product that is sold on the local market. Although trade is extensive, nearly all recently-collected specimens have been taken from anthropogenic habitats, and so there is currently little pressure on this species in the natural forested areas. As deforestation is extensive throughout Borneo, however, the replacement of natural habitats with plantations and farmland may increase the pressures on this snake, which adapts well to habitat conversion.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species in known from protected areas and is listed on Appendix II of CITES. No trade of wild harvested snakes is allowed from Sarawak. Annual harvests of this species in Indonesia are limited by capture and export quotas. The current conservation measures in place do not correspond with the necessary enforcement, which needs to be more effective.

Citation: Inger, R.F., Iskandar, D., Lilley, R., Jenkins, H. & Das, I. 2012. Python breitensteini. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 October 2014.
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