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Captive breeding centre for king cobras

By Our Staff Correspondent


MANGALORE, FEB. 15. The country's first scientific captive breeding centre for king cobras set up under the guidance of Romolus Whittaker, expert in reptiles, was inaugurated today at the Pilikula Biological Park at Moodushedde village near here.

At a function held at the park, Mr. Whittaker exchanged documents of a memorandum of understanding with the president of the Pilikula Nisarga Dhama Society and Deputy Commissioner, Aravind Shrivastava, to start the centre officially.

Mr. Whittaker said the centre had five king cobras and the first breeding cycle would start by month end.

The breeding cycle would be between 90 and 120 days. The centre would take the help of experts in the country, including Lalji Singh of Hyderabad, in making captive breeding successful.

Mr. Whittaker said that some years ago an attempt was made for captive breeding of king cobras but it did not give the expected results. But this time, many new natural techniques of captive breeding would be introduced and the park had the natural surrounding of the Western Ghats, which was closer to the habitat of king cobras.

Pointing at one of the snakes, Mr. Whittaker said Raja was the largest king cobra in captivity in the country, which measured 14.3 feet.

Mr. Whittaker said the reasons for captive breeding of king cobras were to conserve the species and the lateral spread of the species, which helped the zoological parks in the country to procure them without disturbing their habitat.

Stating that the DNA tests showed that king cobras found in parts of the country had different qualities, he said the centre would also study them. The habitat mapping, sighting of king cobras in the wild at Someshwar and Agumbe were some of the activities planned by the centre. The king cobra should be given the status of "national reptile" on the lines of national animal, bird or flower, he added.

The executive director of the society, J.R. Lobo, said the park was now ready with special "captive pen" enclosures and other facilities for breeding. The Karnataka Bank had extended Rs. two lakh as assistance to start breeding activities, he added.

Mr. Shrivastava said Pilikula was becoming an ecotourism and training centre. Programmes to create awareness on the environment would be held there, he added.

The Chairman of the bank, Ananthakrishna, said the bank was happy to be associated with the breeding project.

The Deputy Conservator of Forests, Mangalore Wildlife Division, Jaiprakash Bhandary, and the district science coordinator, K.V. Rao, were present.

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