Save The King Project
The King Cobra, Ophiophagus hannah (Cantor, 1836) is listed as a Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and also listed by the CITES Appendix II. Primary threats to King Cobras are thought to be habitat destruction and illegal collection for the skin trade, food, pets, traditional medicines, and persecution by humans. Although the King Cobra has been confirmed from 41 districts of Nepal there has been limited research on King Cobras, most of which are confined to small areas, or consist of data from opportunistic surveys. The main purpose of Save The King project is to highlight the current status of the King Cobra and conservation needs in Nepal.
Nepalese have deep-rooted traditional, cultural and religious beliefs towards snakes and worship snakes as gods. Hindus celebrate a special day called Nag Panchami, a famous snake festival, where snake posters and snake sculptures are worshiped by people. In Nepal, every year 1,000 people die out of 20,000 snakebite cases. However, hospital reports indicate that King Cobra bites are extremely rare compared to other venomous snakebites. Unfortunately, most people consider King Cobra to be extremely dangerous and frequently killing them when encountered. Our preliminary survey data reflect an increasing trend in King Cobra deaths. We believe that deaths will decrease in the future, as people become more familiar with King Cobra behavior though this Save The King project.
Nepal has undergone a rapid increase in human population due to expansion of developmental activities, causing drastic decreases in forest areas, which result in increased human-King Cobra conflicts. Our preliminary survey suggests that major threats to King Cobras are deliberate killing by humans and large-scale habitat loss due to increased presence of humans. We will conduct research programs on this charismatic species to understand its natural history and ecology, as well as continued conservation education, community outreach and capacity building programs to protect the habitat and Save The King.