In the lush verdant Western ghats of Agumbe, Karnataka, a heavy rainfall area, second next to only Cherrapunji, Assam, is the abode of King Cobras, the longest venomous snake in the world. Also called as Ophiphagus, these snake eating enigmatic cobras astounded me in the wonderful documentary captured by my friend Ramnath and the other members of the team for National Geographic.
The movie was an eye opener in many ways especially for those who know nothing about King Cobra. I had a discussion with Ramnath after he came back from the shoot, and as usual plethora of questions battled my mind. Though I did find some answers to the questions, the film also made me think about many issues related to conservation. King Cobras two traits were observed-one is cannibalism, as these mighty snakes fed on their favourite meal-rat snakes. Another highlight was nesting. How gingerly the snakes roll up leaves to build a comfortable home set at the right temperature-28 degrees to hatch.
The documentary started off with how locals depend on the conservationists working at Agumbe to report if they found one at home. At a small house, two women and children are absorbed in their own chores when a huge king cobra is sighted. There is a clear panic and soon the snake enters the home. A basket is quickly placed over the snake and there is an emergency call made to Gaurishankar, the key among the conservationists working in Agumbe region. Romulus Whitaker and Gaurishankar quickly reach the place, rescue the snake and start their research work on King Cobras. Soon, the snake is captured and then left into the wild.
A researcher from Arizona joins Rom and Gauri and sets to track the king cobras by doing a minor surgery on the queen cobra and fitting a transmitter on to it. The queen fails to recoup and then slowly starts breathing. The queen is soon left to her world. Among king cobras, there is a battle and the winner gets to mate the queen and the loser has to leave the territory. In an engrossing battle, a king cobra leaves the place and the queen cobra soon approaches the winning cobra. But, in a few minutes, the king attacks the queen and kills her. He tries to gobble her, but in vain as the queen cobra is pregnant, carrying the eggs of the cobra which lost and left the territory. The question remains on why the king cobra did it.
Is it technology that created a problem is a question that rankled my mind for a very long time. The glorious queen cobra died valiantly after fighting with the king and she fell weak. Soon, she is put to rest.
If technology is going to create a problem for these creatures, it is better to leave them to their own world. In the name of conservation, lets not burn their lives!