As the year of the snake approaches, the BBC’s Martin Patience visited the ‘snake village’ of Zisiqiao, where villagers expect to see a profitable year due to the Lunar New Year:
The reptiles are reared for their meat, which is sold to restaurants, and their body parts, which are highly sought after in traditional Chinese medicine.
“In the year of snake we hope our company’s profits will double,” says Yang Hongchang, the 61-year-old farmer who introduced snake breeding to the village decades ago.
But with rising demand for snakes, the once poor village of Zisiqiao is now relatively wealthy, with many residents boasting revenue of tens of thousands of dollars.
“Snakes are my saviour,” he said. “When I first came here I was scared of snakes but that’s no longer the case.”
Aside from Zisiqiao, Chau Ka-Ling in Hong Kong says she serves over 1000 bowls of snake soup on her busiest days, Reuters reports:
Trained by her father in childhood to handle snakes, Chau, now in her early 50s, took over the business he founded, serving up a small bowl of soup for $35 Hong Kong dollars.
From boiling the essence out of snake, chicken and pig bones, to spicing it up with an array of ingredients that include five types of snake meat, the traditional southern Chinese snack can take over six hours to make.
Yet as the cold deepens in the weeks leading up to the Chinese New Year and the Year of the Snake it ushers in on Feb 10, Hong Kong locals huddle inside small street shops like hers.
“I’ve killed snakes for so many year, but actually I don’t want to. Because there are fewer and fewer snakes now,” she said. “But I can’t make a career change. There’s nothing else I can do.”
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