King Cobra conservation through conflict mitigation and community empowerment in the Eastern Ghats.

  • Focal species: King Cobra (Ophiphagus hannah)
  • Secondary species: Asiatic Elephant, Asiatic Wild Dog, Fishing Cat, Indian Bison, Indian Leopard, Indian Pangolin, Mousedeer, Rusty-spotted Cat
  • Countries: India
  • Name of organisation: Eastern Ghats Wildlife Society
  • Support requested:
    contributions for specific items >1000 euro,
    contributions to running of project <1000 euro,
  • Does this project benefit local people through employment and/or capacity building: yes
  • Does this project benefit local people in other ways: Apart from local capacity building and education activities to mitigate conflict, we will also provide useful items such as flashlights, mosquito nets and protective foot wear to targeted groups within the communities who are highly vulnerable to snake bites during the day and at night. Besides, we will also explore alternate livelihood options for these communities with marginal economies to reduce natural resource extraction from the adjoining forests.

Project Description

The Eastern Ghats are a stretch of discontinuous hill ranges extending along the east coast of South India. They abound in several species of snakes including the iconic King Cobra Ophiophagus hannah which is the longest venomous snake in the world. It is has been assessed as “Vulnerable” under the IUCN Red List. They are also legally protected in India under the Wildlife Act, 1972. However, several adult king cobras are indiscriminately killed on sight by local people every now and again each year throughout the North Eastern Ghats region. This indicates a deep intolerance among people and lack of measures to prevent such incidents. Many other snake species that form the very prey base for the King Cobra are also killed due to fear and ignorance.
Likewise, venomous snakes kill more than 50,000 people each year in India and the World Health Organization also categorized snake bite as a neglected tropical disease. Unfortunately, most of the bites happen in rural areas where people have no knowledge or necessary skills to deal with snake encounters and get bitten while trying to kill the snake or accidentally stepping on it at night.
The project will work towards conserving King Cobras as well other threatened ophiofauna by habitat protection, education and community engagement in the affected areas of the North Eastern Ghats. We will a) provide on-the-ground solutions to mitigate human-snake conflicts, and b) incorporate indigenous knowledge of wildlife by training chosen local tribes as “parabiologists” in basic survey techniques and snake rescue methods who can eventually go back to their communities and help them when issues arise as well as assist us in conservation efforts. We will also collect baseline data on the species population distribution and habitat suitability to develop a management strategy for king cobra conservation in the region.

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