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Pictures | Fri Dec 4, 2020 | 12:35am EST

Myanmar monk offers temple sanctuary for threatened snakes

Buddhist monk Wilatha holds a rescued Burmese python at his monastery that has turned into a snake sanctuary on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, November 26, 2020. Wilatha is trying to play a part in saving scores of snakes that might otherwise be killed or destined for the black market. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

Buddhist monk Wilatha holds a rescued Burmese python at his monastery that has turned into a snake sanctuary on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, November 26, 2020. Wilatha is trying to play a part in saving scores of snakes that might otherwise be...more

Buddhist monk Wilatha holds a rescued Burmese python at his monastery that has turned into a snake sanctuary on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, November 26, 2020. Wilatha is trying to play a part in saving scores of snakes that might otherwise be killed or destined for the black market. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin
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Rescued Burmese pythons lie in a cage at the monastery. The 69-year-old monk has created a refuge for snakes ranging from pythons to vipers and cobras at the Seikta Thukha TetOo monastery in the bustling commercial city of Yangon.

REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

Rescued Burmese pythons lie in a cage at the monastery. The 69-year-old monk has created a refuge for snakes ranging from pythons to vipers and cobras at the Seikta Thukha TetOo monastery in the bustling commercial city of Yangon. REUTERS/Shwe Paw...more

Rescued Burmese pythons lie in a cage at the monastery. The 69-year-old monk has created a refuge for snakes ranging from pythons to vipers and cobras at the Seikta Thukha TetOo monastery in the bustling commercial city of Yangon. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin
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Wilatha feeds a rescued Burmese python. Since the snake refuge launch five years ago, residents and government agencies, including the fire department, have been bringing captured snakes to the monk.

REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

Wilatha feeds a rescued Burmese python. Since the snake refuge launch five years ago, residents and government agencies, including the fire department, have been bringing captured snakes to the monk. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

Wilatha feeds a rescued Burmese python. Since the snake refuge launch five years ago, residents and government agencies, including the fire department, have been bringing captured snakes to the monk. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin
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"Once people catch snakes, they will likely try to find a buyer," said Wilatha, who also uses his saffron robe to clean the snake, one of the many he looks after and describes as "my children."

REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

"Once people catch snakes, they will likely try to find a buyer," said Wilatha, who also uses his saffron robe to clean the snake, one of the many he looks after and describes as "my children." REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

"Once people catch snakes, they will likely try to find a buyer," said Wilatha, who also uses his saffron robe to clean the snake, one of the many he looks after and describes as "my children." REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin
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A rescued Burmese python lies on a Buddha statue. Having such a sanctuary in mainly-Buddhist Myanmar means people can gain 'merit' by giving the snakes to a monk rather than killing or selling them, said Wilatha, who feels he is helping protect the natural ecological cycle.

REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

A rescued Burmese python lies on a Buddha statue. Having such a sanctuary in mainly-Buddhist Myanmar means people can gain 'merit' by giving the snakes to a monk rather than killing or selling them, said Wilatha, who feels he is helping protect the...more

A rescued Burmese python lies on a Buddha statue. Having such a sanctuary in mainly-Buddhist Myanmar means people can gain 'merit' by giving the snakes to a monk rather than killing or selling them, said Wilatha, who feels he is helping protect the natural ecological cycle. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin
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A Buddhist monk holds a Burmese python. The Southeast Asian country has become a global hub in the illegal wildlife trade with snakes often smuggled to neighboring countries like China and Thailand, according to conservationists.

REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

A Buddhist monk holds a Burmese python. The Southeast Asian country has become a global hub in the illegal wildlife trade with snakes often smuggled to neighboring countries like China and Thailand, according to conservationists. REUTERS/Shwe Paw...more

A Buddhist monk holds a Burmese python. The Southeast Asian country has become a global hub in the illegal wildlife trade with snakes often smuggled to neighboring countries like China and Thailand, according to conservationists. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin
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A family looks at rescued Burmese pythons. Despite being considered an invasive species in some parts of the world, the Burmese python has been listed as "vulnerable" in its native Southeast Asia by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

A family looks at rescued Burmese pythons. Despite being considered an invasive species in some parts of the world, the Burmese python has been listed as "vulnerable" in its native Southeast Asia by the International Union for Conservation of...more

A family looks at rescued Burmese pythons. Despite being considered an invasive species in some parts of the world, the Burmese python has been listed as "vulnerable" in its native Southeast Asia by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin
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A Buddhist monk and firefighters release Burmese pythons into the wild at a forest on the outskirts of Yangon. "Generally, living in close proximity to people induces stress in snakes," said Kalyar Platt, a member of the Wildlife Conservation Society, explaining the need to get them back into the forest as soon as possible.

REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

A Buddhist monk and firefighters release Burmese pythons into the wild at a forest on the outskirts of Yangon. "Generally, living in close proximity to people induces stress in snakes," said Kalyar Platt, a member of the Wildlife Conservation...more

A Buddhist monk and firefighters release Burmese pythons into the wild at a forest on the outskirts of Yangon. "Generally, living in close proximity to people induces stress in snakes," said Kalyar Platt, a member of the Wildlife Conservation Society, explaining the need to get them back into the forest as soon as possible. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin
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Buddhist monk Wilatha feeds a rescued Burmese python. Relying on donations for the roughly $300 a month needed to feed the snakes, Wilatha only keeps them until he feels they are ready to go back to the wild.

REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

Buddhist monk Wilatha feeds a rescued Burmese python. Relying on donations for the roughly $300 a month needed to feed the snakes, Wilatha only keeps them until he feels they are ready to go back to the wild. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

Buddhist monk Wilatha feeds a rescued Burmese python. Relying on donations for the roughly $300 a month needed to feed the snakes, Wilatha only keeps them until he feels they are ready to go back to the wild. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin
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A Buddhist monk prepares to release Burmese pythons into a forest on the outskirts of Yangon. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

A Buddhist monk prepares to release Burmese pythons into a forest on the outskirts of Yangon. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

A Buddhist monk prepares to release Burmese pythons into a forest on the outskirts of Yangon. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin
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During a recent release at the Hlawga National Park, Wilatha said he was happy to see them slither into freedom but worried in case they were caught again. "They would be sold to the black market if they are caught by bad people."

REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

During a recent release at the Hlawga National Park, Wilatha said he was happy to see them slither into freedom but worried in case they were caught again. "They would be sold to the black market if they are caught by bad people." REUTERS/Shwe Paw...more

During a recent release at the Hlawga National Park, Wilatha said he was happy to see them slither into freedom but worried in case they were caught again. "They would be sold to the black market if they are caught by bad people." REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin
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A rescued Burmese python peeks out of a monk's robes. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

A rescued Burmese python peeks out of a monk's robes. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

A rescued Burmese python peeks out of a monk's robes. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin
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A rescued Burmese python lies on a Buddha statue. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

A rescued Burmese python lies on a Buddha statue. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

A rescued Burmese python lies on a Buddha statue. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin
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Rescued Burmese pythons lie in a cage. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

Rescued Burmese pythons lie in a cage. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

Rescued Burmese pythons lie in a cage. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin
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Buddhist monk Wilatha holds a rescued Burmese python. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

Buddhist monk Wilatha holds a rescued Burmese python. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin

Buddhist monk Wilatha holds a rescued Burmese python. REUTERS/Shwe Paw Mya Tin
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