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King Cobra Ecology and Conservation in South India
Project Abstract – The study is being conducted in the central Western Ghats which comprises one of the last surviving lowland rainforests of India that is rapidly becoming fragmented due to human encroachment. The land use in the region mostly includes agriculture, mining and residential development. Being located in Western Ghats this region is one of the last strongholds for not only the king cobra, but a myriad of other unique plants and animals. It is critical to act now in our efforts to obtain greater protection for this recognized Biodiversity Hotspot.
Being a flagship species for this region and an apex predator mainly preying upon other snakes, the presence of king cobras indicates a healthy biodiversity. Four teams comprising one well trained intern and one local field assistant in each will track four radio-tagged snakes everyday thoughout their activity period to observe day to day activity, movement and interactions. While the king cobra telemetry study will help to gain considerable knowledge on the ecology and behavior of the species, it will also provide ample opportunity to continue to communicate with communities living in the region and conduct awareness programs on a regular basis while following the king cobras through this largely human dominated landscape. A concise periodic report will be submitted to the Karnataka State Forest Department (the permitting agency) based on results of the study which will help in implementing actions towards conservation at the landscape level. Over 800 students from across India will be trained and taught about snake behavioral ecology and the use of radio telemetry through the volunteer program.
Next Video Project
The KCC is in the process of raising funds to make an educational video about king cobras in Agumbe, Karnataka State (the Western Ghats) where people have learned to live with them, thanks to the efforts of the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station. The film will be dubbed in Telugu, the language spoken in the region of the Eastern Ghats and will include interviews with farmers and other village folks who now know the value of protecting king cobras and how little threat they cause to people. King cobras are protected under Schedule II of India's Wildlife Protection Act and killing one can lead to imprisonment of 3 to 7 years.
This information needs to reach the people!
This project in Agumbe, Karnataka State, India regularly rescues King Cobras from people's homes and villages surrounding the rain forest. Awareness is created on a regular basis through workshops with schools, villages and community civic groups.
108 King Cobras (Ophiophagus hannah) were rescued in 2016