Abrupt end to king cobra research

Abrupt end to king cobra research

Forest Department not to continue funding of radio telemetric project

Abrupt end to king cobra research

The State Forest Department has decided to stop funding the project citing this as a reason.

What would have been a boost for the wildlife conservation in the Western Ghats, will end abruptly. The State Forest Department, in its letter to the expert dated January 4, 2010 has stalled the project citing the telecast in a private channel.

The letter refers to the channel which showed that a female cobra with an embedded chip is killed by a male cobra at the time of mating and says, “In view of this it is decided not to continue the permission beyond its expiry dated March 2010.” The letter also suggests that the research at the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station (ARRS) at Suralihalla in Shimoga district should conclude by March 2010.

The research, which began in March 2008, was aimed at understanding the natural history of king cobra. The first ever such project in the world involved micro-chipping the largest venomous snake in the world to study its home range, distance travelled and other aspects so that they would arrive at the conservation strategy for the rare species. The snake is losing its habitat due to several reasons. With already five snakes micro-chipped, the team of five researchers headed by Romulus Whitaker had imported several expensive devices including chips and transmitters, and more than Rs 10 lakh had been spent on the research every year.

Certain results

“After two years, we have arrived at certain results. But they will be complete only after studying more number of cobras. We first embedded chips into five cobras of which one has been devoured and two have been lost. Two are being studied. We need to study their movement, population and other aspects if only granted more time,” informs one of the researchers here.

Expressing surprise over the Forest Department’s directions, he said, “These species naturally eat their own species. They are called as ophio phagus hannah which means snake-eating snakes,” he said.

B K Singh, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden when contacted confirmed about stopping the project.

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