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Florida python hunt: 800 compete to remove invasive snakes

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Python image captured by Liz Barraco from the FWC EVERGLADES, Fla. - More than 800 competitors will be trudging through the Florida Everglades for the next eight days, in search of invasive Burmese pythons that will bring in thousands of dollars in prize money.The python hunt officially began Friday morning and runs through 5 p.m.

on Aug. 15, according to officials who gathered in Miami to kick off the annual event."This is significant because every python removed is one less invasive species preying on our native birds, mammals and reptiles," said Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis.Since 2000, more than 17,000 pythons have been removed from the Everglades ecosystem, according to a news release.

Burmese pythons, which are not native to Florida, prey on birds, mammals and other reptiles. A female python can lay as many as 100 eggs a year.MORE NEWS: 2 large mama pythons, dozens of hatchlings found at Florida's Big Cypress National PreserveCash prizes of up to $2,500 are available in both the professional and novice categories for those who remove the most pythons, officials said.

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Sri Lanka’s Gotabaya expected to go to Thailand – sources
(Reuters) – Sri Lanka's ousted president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, is expected to arrive in Thailand on Thursday, seeking temporary shelter in a second Southeast Asian country after fleeing his island nation last month amid mass protests, two sources said.Rajapaksa fled to Singapore on July 14, via the Maldives, following unprecedented unrest triggered by Sri Lanka's worst economic crisis in seven decades and days after thousands of protesters stormed the president's official residence and office.The retired military officer then resigned from the presidency, becoming the first Sri Lankan president to quit mid-term.The former president is expected to leave Singapore and go to Thailand's capital Bangkok on Thursday, two sources said, asking not to be named.Sri Lanka's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Thai government spokeswoman Ratchada Thanadirek told Reuters “no comment”.Rajapaksa has not made any public appearances or comments since leaving Sri Lanka, and Singapore's government said this month that the city-state had not accorded him any privileges or immunity. A member of the influential Rajapaksa family, the 73-year-old served in the Sri Lankan military and later as defence secretary.During his time as defence secretary government forces finally defeated Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009 to end the Sri Lankan civil war.
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