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The Lord of the Jungle...King Cobra
By Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira

December 18, 2012

The world is celebrating Christmas, or so it seems, at the wrong time of the year. The spirits are high but underneath the festivity there lies a somber reality, something that all of us need to know with respect to Biodiversity and Wildlife conservation. The overall status of the Planet's ecosystem is threatened by changing environment, especially due to human influence and this damage has been so extensive within the last 25 years. So many species of our unique wildlife are fast disappearing to various factors out of which most of them relate to the activities of man. Many species are at the risk of becoming extinct due to the accelerated rate of deforestation and habitat destruction. World over, wildlife population has declined at an alarming rate. There are almost a third fewer animal, bird and aquatic species than three decades ago. The decline comes at a time when humans are consuming far significant amounts of natural resources and are now using 25 % more than the planet can regenerate. Human disturbances are putting constant pressure on ecosystems and dramatically impacting species.

This article is especially written for Daijiworld readers, at the tail end of this year 2012 so that wildlife preservation gets top priority in your New Year 2013 resolutions. Go ahead ! Make an impact ; even in a small way that goes a long way in the end.

To begin with, we have highlighted a few of the facts with respect to the King Cobra, so that each of you can familiarize and understand its behavior and habitat.

The pictures of the King Cobra that you are about to view is a result of our 25 year work mapping the Biodiversity of the Western Ghats. We have provided pictures of both the GREEN and BLACK coloured King cobras in every possible angle so that even an amateur can appreciate and identify different types of King cobras. A few of the close ups, will be of great help in identifying the scales and patterns of King Cobras that are present in the Western Ghats. A few rare slides pertain to molting and shedding and one can see the visible imprint of the scale. Even though, many pictures look alike, each is different and has a different story to tell. We have encountered many risks photographing these rare and magnificent reptiles and we hope these pictures will inspire you to make conservation of nature as one among your top New Year resolutions. Most of you will agree that , we have received much more from Nature than what we have given back and now is the crucial time that we need to support Nature.


DESCRIPTION:

The King Cobra, a religious icon in India and the country's National reptile, is the world's longest venomous snake.

The King cobra. the longest of all living venomous snakes in the wild, is truly a magnificent creature which exudes awe and inspiration. The species is not a true cobra of the genus Naja (spectacled cobra ) instead is categorized into a separate genus whose scientific name derives from the Greek for "Snake- eating".


DISTRIBUTION:

The King Cobra is found in densely forested areas of Karnataka (Western Ghats ), Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur and the Andaman Islands. Indonesia, Southern China and South east Asia ,once had large populations of the ecologically vital snakes, some specimens of which grow to 18 feet in length and weigh up to 12 kg, though the average length of the snake is 3 to 4 meters and its average weight is 6 kg.


HABITAT:

The primary dwelling place of king cobras is the rain forest, grasslands and plains. They prefer thick undergrowth and clusters of bamboo. It is known to occur from sea level to mountainous regions. If you think, king cobras live only in deep jungles, then you are wrong. They also do well in fields and other human dominated landscapes where they hunt other snakes. By and large they prefer dense forests, with water bodies in the vicinity. By eating other venomous snakes, the king cobras play an important role in the ecosystem, keeping the balance so that the numbers of other snakes are kept down. The king cobra is not an aggressive snake. They mostly enter the human settlements while chasing their prey. They act as bio-control agents for other venomous snakes which cause thousands of fatalities every year


BEHAVIOUR:

Many people are scared of the extremely long tongue of the King Cobra . It is longer than any other species of snake. They have the ability to collect smell on their tongue and then use receptors in the mouth to determine if it is food, a threat, or if the surroundings are safe. They are also believed to be able to see up to 300 feet away so even predators not very close to them are at risk. This type of vision is uncommon among snakes and it is believed to be one of the principal attributes that allows the King to thrive.

 
HOOD:

King cobras, like other cobras, have distinctive hoods that they can flair out for mating, attack or territorial purposes. When not spreading their hoods, king cobras keep the extra skin limp close to their body. To spread the hood, the cobra flexes its ribs to bring the hood skin out. The hood itself does not have any practical function, but the snake uses it to display aggression and for courting practices.


COLORS:

Their coloration varies, depending on region and altitude. King cobras come in a wide variety of colors, depending on their region. Their bodies themselves can be light green, black, brown or some combination or mixture of the three. Sometimes they have bands around their bodies in colors like white, yellow or beige. These bands vary in thickness, color and number from snake to snake. King cobras always have yellow bellies, no matter what color the rest of their bodies are. The bellies are either smooth or segmented with bars. Young king cobras are solid black with bright bands on their bodies.


MOVEMENT:

King cobras have unique movement patterns due to their size and strength. To strike or assess a threat, king cobras can lift roughly one-third of their body off the ground and still move around. According to National Geographic, a large king cobra can look a full-grown human in the eyes. King cobras climb trees, swim and move quickly across land.


STATUS:

According to Romulus Whitaker, herpetologist and founder of Madras Snake Park, the King cobra has been been declared a vulnerable species and placed on the IUCN red list because of massive trade in its skin, meat and body parts for Chinese medicines in Southeast Asia.


PROTECTION:

The King cobra is protected under Schedule II of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act. "Anyone killing the snake could be imprisoned for up to six years," Whitaker says. "A study using radio telemetry is being carried out at Agumbe Rainforest Research Station (ARS) in Karnataka to learn more about the snake to help in conservation of the species."


VENOM:

One single bite contains enough neurotoxins to kill 20 people. Though theirs is not the most poisonous venom in the world, king cobras inject so much venom with one bite that they can paralyze and kill animals as large as elephants. The specific amount of fluid released in one bite is 1 oz. The king cobra's venom is a neurotoxin that affects the nervous system and can shut down a victim's heart because it contains traces of cardiotoxic compounds in it. Only the Gaboon viper can inject more venom with its bite. The king cobra produces this venom out of polypeptides and proteins in special glands located behind the eyes. The venom flows through the fangs when the snake attacks, and it gets into the area of the bite, working rapidly to disable its prey.


MATING:

From January to March male king cobras seek out a mate by following chemical pheromone signals released by the females. Once located, the male employs courtship behaviors such as rubbing the head along the femaleís body, which may develop into butting and nudging actions if the female shows reticence to mate.


BREEDING HABITS:

The only snake that builds a 2-foot high nest of twigs, leaves and other vegetation to lay eggs (20 - 40) that hatch around 110 days. The eggs are incubated at a steady temperature of 28 degree centigrade. The nest comprises a lower chamber for the eggs, which is covered over with leaf-litter, and an upper chamber on top, in which the female resides, guarding the eggs from predators and trampling. Such a complex nest is unique among snakes, and is considered to be a sign that the king cobra may be one of the most intelligent snake species . The female king cobra is a very dedicated parent. When the eggs start to hatch, instinct causes the female to leave the nest and find prey to eat so that she does not eat her young. The researchers say they have seen most king cobras out in the morning after the sun rises and the outside temperature is slightly warmer. "Some snakes like the krait are known to be nocturnal but king cobras forage during the day and are mostly in the burrow at night. The male and female cobras take turns guarding the nest and hunting. Baby cobras, or hatchlings, are about 19.7 inches (50cm) at birth and are brightly marked.


SEXES:

Male King Cobras are larger than female King Cobras unlike most other snakes that have females that are larger than the males. King Cobra offspring weight does not vary between sexes.


FOOD:

Most terrestrial snakes are not known to hunt in water. The ARS has recorded for the first time that king cobras also hunt in water, like streams and ponds where they have chased prey. Scientists have recorded for the first time a king cobra holding another snake under water to drown the other snake. These snakes typically eat other snakes that are both venomous and non venomous. Prey is swallowed whole, headfirst. King Cobras have slow metabolisms and can live off a large meal for months.


FANGS:

King cobras have short fangs and powerful venom, but they rarely attack humans.


ANTIVENOM:

There are two types of anti venom made specifically to treat king cobra envenomations. The Red Cross in Thailand manufactures one, and the Central Research Institute in India manufactures the other; however, both are made in small quantities and are not widely available


CONCLUSION:

As the new year dawns, we need to embrace nature with new found vigor and change our attitude towards nature. All that we ask of you; is to be guardians of wildlife. In short, protection of the Earths biological riches should be the business of every citizen. One way of going about it, is the way we buy or choose a product which is environment friendly and which will last a long time to come.

 

Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira - Archives

 

 

READ 'EXCLUSIVE ARCHIVES'
Comments on this article
Leona, BrisbaneSunday, December 30, 2012
Thank you Dr.Anand and geeta for this excellent article.The pictures are fantastic and keep up and also continue to write more interesting articles in daiji dubai
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Leander, BrisbaneSunday, December 30, 2012
Dr Anand uncle and Geeta aunty thank you for sharing with all of us the interesting facts on the lord of the jungle that is the king cobra . I have seen cobra's before but not this clear.I am sure you have worked hard in this article and is now opened my eyes towards the king cobra and its facts
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Liza Gina Pais, BrisbaneSunday, December 30, 2012
Dr.Anand and geeta the king cobras are so scary to me it is really great that you got the picture up close that is the first clearest picture i have ever seen these pictures are very interesting.....
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Naresh Hazel, MumbaiSaturday, December 29, 2012
I salute Dr Anand and Geeta for their informative articles on wildlife and this type of valuable information must be passed on to the younger generations.Really beautiful and fasinating pictures.Your hard work and risky photography will always be remembered and rewarded.
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g.w.carlo, hassanFriday, December 28, 2012
My father used to say he had a 'Garuda Reke' on his hand. He used to play with the cobras with a small stick and eventually kill them. We used to watch him enthralled! I think the conservationists have failed to educate the ordinary people. There is no anti- venom treatment available at village level. You have to go the quacks. You will be horrified to know how many people die by venomous snake bites every year. I am proud of Dr.Anand and Geeta Pereira's works. I wish their research may benefit the people concerned.
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lyra/Richard Pinato, Sakleshpur/MangaloreFriday, December 28, 2012
Bravo Anand and Geetha. Just watching the pictures sends a chill down the spine Keep up the good work of conserving bio-diversity.Our best wishes always remain.Watch out Anand, risk factor is involved. Good job, inspite of your busy schedule.
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nihal, MangaloreSaturday, December 22, 2012
Wow. Amazing pictures dad. keep up the good work
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Rev.Fr.John, MysoreSaturday, December 22, 2012
"Dear Anand Pereira,it si so amazing to see what you are busy with besides the coffee plantation with the expertise.You are prolific photographer with an eye for not only artistic perspectives , but also one can see the scientific eco -environmental concern.You inspire us to cooperate with the nature . We need to save the nature in order to be happy.All the best. With Christmas Wishes to you and your dear ones. .fr j f tex"
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Rajeshwari, MangaloreSaturday, December 22, 2012
Karnataka State is blessed to have the King Cobra inside the western Ghats. It is our duty to provide a safe habitat for this magnificent King which is rare and threatened due to human activities. Every piece of information in the article is worth reading and understanding. Thanks to Daiji , Dr.Anand and Geeta.
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Simon, GoaSaturday, December 22, 2012
karnataka is king cobra country -would like more info about these snakes in karnataka
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Jivan , KuwaitFriday, December 21, 2012
Wowee...Fantastic pictures Anand, wonder how close you had to get to take some of those shots. Guess when one understands nature as well as you do, nature understands you as well too. Keep it up, its a very noble thing the two of you are doing.
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Harisankar, DelhiFriday, December 21, 2012
Excellent work!!
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venkatraman, mangaloreFriday, December 21, 2012
Dear anand thank u very much 4 the mail which is very informative for the younger generation . i can imagine how much hard work is needed to click picture of the king cobra 4m diff angles . gud work anand best of luck in ur future work
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Ramchandra , MangaloreThursday, December 20, 2012

recd ur lovely mail with lovely pics and lots of knowledge, i really liked it and thnx for the same
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Dr. Zita Lobo, Mangalore/dubaiThursday, December 20, 2012
The cobras, my favorites in addition to the trinket snake. Vivid pictures with descriptions make for a delightful reading.
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Peter Dmello, Udyavara/SydThursday, December 20, 2012
Excellent article, keep these coming.
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Agnes Zoology Dept., MangaloreThursday, December 20, 2012
Went through your recent articles on King cobra. The photos are very fascinating and the article is interesting and informative. Congratulations Geetha and Anand
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hylon rodrigues, mangaloreThursday, December 20, 2012
nice article dr anand and geeta keep the good work going on nature
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Sunil, CHIKMAGALUR Thursday, December 20, 2012
Excellent article
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DBhat, Mumbai/USAWednesday, December 19, 2012
Although the pictures are excellent (great job), I get frightened looking at them....
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Victor Fernandes, Brampton,TorontoWednesday, December 19, 2012
The article on cobra is informative and
the pictures are beautiful, but I know many people die of cobra bites.
One recent case is that a cobra was hiding in a bush may be looking for it's prey,when a school boy happened to put his hand in the bush to get his cricket ball, the cobra bit him and he died. These cobras are rampent in fields and jungles,poor farmers and many poor people who go there for farming and collecting wood for their daily bread easily become the victims of cobras. I understand we need them for the purpose of biodiversity and they also eat the other venomous snakes but the fact they kill humans hurts me as a result I hate them, tell me what is more precious than a human life ?
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RONNIE GOMES, Kadri, MangaloreWednesday, December 19, 2012
Fantastic & interesting article with amazing photos. Great work Anand & Geetha....Congratulations
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Harsha, MangaloreWednesday, December 19, 2012
Anand... U both are very bold and also done a great research job.
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Marvin, BangaloreWednesday, December 19, 2012
Excellent article Anand. Congrats !!!
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Merwyn Lewis, KuwaitWednesday, December 19, 2012
Simply Awe inspiring - The King in all its glory. This fantastic picture taking gives true credit to this magnificent creation. The best has been brought out in these shoots. Such pictures can change ones mind in favor of wild life preservation. Thank you so much for spending your time to bring this to us.
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Marie Prem D'Souza, MangaloreWednesday, December 19, 2012
Drs. Anand and Geetha, you have done well to give us some information to help us preserve wild life so that we can preserve human species. Superstition and fear causes more damage to wild life than selfish behaviour. Wildlife study needs to be encouraged in college and even made mandatory. May your tribe increase. Congrats to the eco-friendly couple
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Michael Sadananda, ChikmagalurWednesday, December 19, 2012
what we watch in National Geography with trained professionals and high end cameras with zoom lenses and all may be little easy and safe to shoot with these deadliest Creatures where as Dr. Anand Pereira has taken courageous step to shoot these pictures very closely with great risk to highlight more about King Cobra and also the article written by Dr. Anand & Geetha Pereira is very informative and easy to understand , I salute them for their dedication for the concern about protecting the environment
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Fr Victor Machado, GulbargaWednesday, December 19, 2012
Interesting article. Please give some clues how to overcome fear-psychosis towards snakes which haunt me even in dreams!
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Prashant, PuneWednesday, December 19, 2012
Great photos and article, once again! Would be interested to know where these photos were shot? It is terrifying enough watching it inside a cage, must have been something else to shoot them so close in the wild! Great job, pl. keep it coming.
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V.Baretto, Bantwal-BangaloreWednesday, December 19, 2012
Good article and beautiful photographs by Pereira couple. Keep it up
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Joe Britto, Nakre/BangaloreWednesday, December 19, 2012
Vivek,

This is the wrong notion .
Snakes especially Cobras never sting and harm human being unless they sense danger and threat to their own existence. It is known fact that snakes help the natural balance and control the population of rodents and also soil aeration to some extent.
But man has already disturbed nature to a great extent and upset the natural food chain as well.

Even the black cobra 'Naja naja 'which is the second most venomous species of cobra, second only to the Philippine Cobra (Naja philippinensis)and member of the Elapidae family injects a post-synaptic neurotoxin into victims. This type of toxin inhibits messaging between nerve cells, paralyzing muscles, leading to respiratory or cardiac failure. It has been revealed that there are some positive health benefits for treating arthritis from the chemical components of the deadly venom.

Man is the only being that kills and harms for pleasure and the free use of the gun in pre and post Independence era (Till about the 1980's) has caused great damage and created fear amongst animals and other beings.
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Anshu Ogra, NEWDELHIWednesday, December 19, 2012
Thanks for sharing the link. This was highly informative.Will share it with friends
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Allen Pais, BrisbaneTuesday, December 18, 2012
Dr Anand Photography cannot get better than what you have exposed to us-Cheers & all the very best-Allen Pais (Siddapur Coorg)
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Vivek, UdupiTuesday, December 18, 2012
Nice info. on king cobra.
Don't you think they are (poisonous) threat to humans specially kids and livestock if their population increases ?
Comment on this message

Roshan Mascarenhas, Belthangady/ColumbusTuesday, December 18, 2012
Dr. Anand and Geetha, Thanks for the detailed article on King Cobra. I appreciate your passion towards conservation of biodiversity. Very nice pictures.
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Joe Britto, Nakre/Bangalore Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Another amazing article by Dr Anand Periera & Dr Geetha Periera. Nature has a built in mechanism to maintain balance in the eco system .The feeding relationships that exist between and among organisms serves as population controls. The population of rodents is controlled by the presence and number of its predators like snakes.
If we go through the previous contribution by our authors who have been blessed immensely with true knowledge of nature , we can see that only man is the destroyer of this our natural wealth in the Western Ghats .We should bear in mind that all forms of life are important and if any part of the chain is broken it causes grave irreparable damage as is seen today .
Our Earth is finite and everything here on Earth is connected to everything else and everything changes and Change is the constant . Nature is indeed beautiful and human beings are just the stewards of Godís heaven called Earth. Our lives are short and we must leave this Earth in a better shape when we are through . There is famous Indian saying:
"We are living on the legacy of our children and have a duty to perform and preserve the Earth." Also when we took birth we did see a when we took birth we did see a lot of trees around and by the time we die, we should certainly leave more trees around us .
There should be more of nature around us and man should truly live in harmony with nature else the generations to come will curse us for ruining nature .
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Bernadine Frank, Mangalore/MelbourneTuesday, December 18, 2012
Beautiful pictures,very well written article.congratulations to you Anand & Geetha.
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Gerald Fernandes, Mangalore/IrelandTuesday, December 18, 2012
Dr Mr & Mrs Periera Beautiful photography, well explained. Thank you very much for spending your precious time enlightening us with fascinating articles.All the best..
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PRATHIKSHA, MANGALORETuesday, December 18, 2012
Very intresting article and fascinating...
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Sam, M'lore/KwtTuesday, December 18, 2012
Dr.Anand & Geeta its been long time for your articles of nature...so good to see the king cobra here..such nice pictures..to tell u frankly ,am so scared of snakes & u took pictures from near...
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