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Captive breeding of king cobras

Jaideep Shenoy

— Photo: R. Eswarraj

A BIG CATCH: A professional snake catcher, with a 16- feet long king cobra which he presented to Dr. Shivrama Karanth Biological Park.

MANGALORE: In a bid to increase the tribe of endangered king cobras, the Central Zoo Authority, New Delhi, has asked the city-based biological park to breed them in captivity.

Dr. Shivaram Karanth of Pilikula Nisargadhama (Biological Park) at Moodushedde near here has started the preliminary work to take up captive breeding of Ophiophagus Hannah.

Importantly, this would be a totally in-house effort. H. Jayaprakash Bhandary, Director of the Park told The Hindu here that the Park here has five king cobras, including two females. It had released two of them into the wild recently.

“We need to create a special environment for the king cobras to breed including keeping the pair selected in isolation. king cobras normally breed during December and we will set up necessary conditions with the help and expertise of our Park staff in this regard.”

The then Deputy Commissioner, Arvind Shrivastava, had exchanged documents on the memorandum of understanding with herpetologist Romolus Whittaker on February 15, 2004 to start India’s first scientific captive breeding centre for king cobras at the Park. However, it was never implemented for various reasons. “It is only of late that the Authority on its own accorded permission to start the activity,” Mr. Bhandary says.

On reasons for the Authority to select the Park, Mr. Bhandary says king cobras are commonly found in the Western Ghat region and efforts to breed them here was expected to yield positive results.

The Central Zoo Authority has selected a few zoos across India to take up captive breeding of endangered species. “A zoo in north India has been permitted to breed Snow Bear just as they have allowed us to breed king cobras,” said Mr. Bhandary.

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