Seven million: that's the estimated annual toll in the world's largest snake harvest, currently taking place on Tonlé Sap in Cambodia - the largest freshwater lake in south-east Asia.
"I don't know of any other reptile that is exploited to this extent," says Sharon Brooks, a graduate student at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, who described her studies of the hunt this week at the Society for Conservation Biology's meeting in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Tonlé Sap's water snakes were largely undisturbed until about two decades ago, when declining fish catches and demand for meat for local crocodile farms left Tonlé Sap's desperately poor fishermen with little choice but to set their nets for the snakes. Crocodile farming has surged in Cambodia since the country opened up to international trade. Local farms raise hatchlings which are then exported to Thailand and Vietnam, where they are grown for their skins.