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Herpetologist P. Gowri Shankar Encounters Giant King Cobra

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When P. Gowri Shankar, a renowned herpetologist from Agumbe in Thirthahalli taluk, Shivamogga district, received an unexpected phone call from an agriculturist in Nadapal village, Hebri, Udupi district, little did he anticipate the extraordinary encounter awaiting him. Travelling approximately 30 kilometers in his multi-utility vehicle, Shankar, accompanied by an associate, hurried to the village where they ventured into the agricultural land.


To their astonishment, amidst the lush greenery of a vast pit, lurked a majestic 15-foot king cobra. “This is the largest king cobra I have seen so far!” exclaimed Shankar. With deft precision, he wielded a ‘snake hook’ to capture the cobra and carefully maneuver it into a bag. After securing the bag with a rope, Shankar proceeded to weigh the serpent using a spring scale, revealing its impressive 12.5-kilogram weight.

As the rare event unfolded, the landowner, his family, curious neighbors, and Shankar’s associate documented the extraordinary spectacle on their phones. “In my 18 years of experience, I’ve encountered approximately 400 king cobras worldwide. The largest I’ve previously handled measured about 14 feet in length and weighed around 10 kilograms. However, this specimen surpasses all records,” Shankar remarked, noting that king cobras in Thailand can reach lengths of up to 18 feet.

Following the meticulous documentation, Shankar released the majestic serpent into a nearby dense forest. Agumbe, renowned as one of India’s wettest regions, harbors a significant population of king cobras. Leveraging his expertise, Shankar has established the Kalinga Centre for Rainforest Ecology within Agumbe’s verdant forests, dedicated to the study and conservation of these enigmatic reptiles.

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