Conservation of the King Cobra in Palpa, a Western Mid Hill District of Nepal

©KB Thapa

King Cobra is found in South and South East Asian countries viz. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan. It is the world's longest venomous snake and considered a dangerous snake that has a fearsome reputation in its range, although it typically avoids confrontation with humans when possible.

It primarily feeds upon snakes thus maintain their population in the nature but it has been facing threats due to habitat degradation, decline in prey base, high human persecution and illegal collection throughout its distribution range. King Cobra is very rare in much of its range, and has experienced local population declines. Furthermore, research and conservation initiatives focused on the species is lacking in Nepal. Thus, Himalayan Nature carried out a King Cobra conservation project in Palpa district funded by The Rufford Foundation, UK.

The major objective of the project was to raise awareness among the communities that have been living alongside the King Cobra. The major activities carried out included production and distribution of conservation awareness raising materials like posters, brochures, signage, banners and T-shirts. It also included conducting awareness programs in schools, colleges and communities. Three King Cobra Rescue and Conservation Groups comprising five members in each group were formed and they were trained on the basics of King Cobra handling and its behavior. Surveys were carried out to understand the distribution, habitat and threats to their survival. A questionnaire survey was carried out to understand the status, distribution, threats, conflict, and perception of local people towards the King Cobra and their conservation.