The ball python is the most commonly traded African species under CITES, with more than 3 million of these reptiles exported since 1975, mainly from Togo, Ghana and Benin.Listed under CITES Appendix II, ball pythons can be legally traded, but exporters require special permits and need to meet certain welfare requirements.Some experts say that wild ball python populations are in rapid decline, and that the trade needs to be better regulated or completely stopped; others say that ball pythons are not currently threatened, and that the trade can be maintained with the proper management and captive breeding programs.There is a growing body of evidence purporting that reptiles are sentient beings capable of emotions, and animal welfare advocates believe this is more reason to stop the trade. In a video, a group of young Ghanian men stride out into the bush, carrying long sticks over their shoulders. Dogs trail alongside them. When they come across a burrow, a man kneels and loosens some dirt with his stick. Then he glides his hand into the hollow, and pulls out a long black snake mottled with brown and tan patches. The snake is a ball python (Python regius), a species named after its habit of coiling up into a ball-like shape when distressed. True to its name, the python twists up as the man lifts the snake into the air, and deposits him into a cloth bag. While the footage doesn’t show what happens next, the men will probably sell the snake to a trader, who will either keep the python for breeding purposes, or export the animal for sale overseas.