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The gritty business of transforming live snakes into handbags

Indonesian workers are sometimes up to their ankles in reptiles as they slaughter, skin, cure, dye and sew.

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Workers hold snakes for skinning at a snake slaughterhouse in Kapetakan village near Cirebon, Indonesia’s West Java province, Feb. 8, 2013.

BEAWIHARTA/REUTERS

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Snakes are prepared for drying in an oven at the slaughterhouse, which produces snake meat and skins.

BEAWIHARTA/REUTERS

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Wakira, also known as ‘Boss Cobra,’ owns the slaughterhouse; he holds a cobra before killing it.

BEAWIHARTA/REUTERS

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Workers hold a snake before slaughtering it. Snake meat is believed by some to be a remedy for skin diseases and asthma, as well as an aid to virility.

BEAWIHARTA/REUTERS

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Workers use scissors to cut the skins, which will be used to make handbags, shoes, wallets and belts.

BEAWIHARTA/REUTERS

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A worker pours water on snakes before cutting the skins. Wakira employs ten workers and earns up to 15 million rupiah ($1,562 U.S.) a month from the factory’s production.

BEAWIHARTA/REUTERS

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Workers hold a snake before killing it at the slaughterhouse.

BEAWIHARTA/REUTERS

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A worker skins a dead snake.

BEAWIHARTA/REUTERS

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A tray of snakes dries inside an oven. The slaughterhouse sells hundreds of metres of snake skins to bag factories in the West and Central Java provinces on a monthly basis.

BEAWIHARTA/REUTERS

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Wakira smokes a cigarette as pieces of dried snake skin hang in front of his slaughterhouse.

BEAWIHARTA/REUTERS

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A worker carries a board with pieces of snake skin ready for drying at a factory that produces handbags at Comal district in Pekalongan, Indonesia’s Central Java province, Feb. 9, 2013. The factory gets its snake skins from Wakira.

BEAWIHARTA/REUTERS

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A worker holds a piece of snake skin after a colouring process at the factory in Comal. The price of a bag made from snake skin costs between 150,000 rupiah ($15.60 U.S.) and 300,000 rupiah ($31.20), depending on its size.

BEAWIHARTA/REUTERS

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A worker sews a bag made of snake skin at a factory producing bags in Comal district.

BEAWIHARTA/REUTERS

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Sunarto, the owner of a factory producing bags, examines a finished bag made of snake skin at his factory in Comal district in Pekalongan.

BEAWIHARTA/REUTERS

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