In early 2022, Save The Snakes Conservation Partner Kamal Devkota and his team implemented the Save The King initiative to protect and research threatened king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) populations in Nepal. This effort includes engaging communities across Nepal to reduce conflict between humans and king cobras. These programs were organized by the Nepal Toxinology Association and KotaKoti Films and were supported by Save The Snakes and other NGOs. As a result of this important wildlife conservation initiative, thousands of people have received lifesaving information about snake awareness and snakebite first aid and imperiled king cobras have been rescued and relocated from conflict situations.
Community Outreach Programs
Throughout the Kawasoti region of Nepal, wildlife conservationist Kamal Devkota and his team conducted ten king cobra conservation and human-king cobra co-existence awareness and outreach programs. At each site, local leaders, conservationists and other community members were invited to participate and attend the programs. Altogether around 500 people participated in the programs. Kamal’s team also have conducted questionnaire surveys to learn about the people’s perceptions towards king cobras and its conservation. The results of these surveys will be published in the future.
The participants have also shared their interest in Save The King campaigns and will be able to help share the knowledge and experience they gained from these programs to other locals who have missed the programs. Through Kamal’s dedicated efforts, community members who participated in these programs can now identify the king cobra when they encounter them. Additionally, they will inform Kamal’s team of local rescuers to relocate this important snake to the nearest suitable habitat.
Awareness Programs in Schools
Snake conservation and human-king cobra co-existence awareness programs were also conducted successfully at five schools and one Army Camp (where a king cobra nest was observed) of Hetauda, Makwanpur District, Nepal. Kamal’s team distributed educational materials at each program. Some of the students showed very keen interest towards the conservation of king cobras and said that they will share their knowledge and educate their parents and neighbors for its conservation.
Rescue and Relocation of King Cobras
In 2021 and early 2022, the Save The King program has been able to identify numerous king cobras throughout Nepal. Kamal and his team have recorded 11 king cobras from Nawalpur district. Most of these snakes were discovered by community members and then they were safely rescued and relocated by local snake conservationists. However, some king cobras observed were not disturbed. Two individuals were spotted during their mating courtship behavior and one was spotted in a wetland in the Namuna Buffer Zone Community Forest (NBZCF). Local coordinator Mr. Prem Mahato was able to rescue two King Cobras from Amaltari, two from Dumkauli, one from Laugain, one from 16 number, and unfortunately two were killed by locals, one from Gairi and another from Rajahar.
Additionally, Kamal’s team also recorded nine King Cobras from Kaski and its surrounding areas. Two were spotted in its natural habitat with their nests and others were rescued from residential areas and released into their natural habitats by team member Mr. Rohit Giri from Kaski.
Lastly, the team has also recorded five King Cobras from Kathmandu. One was juvenile crossing the road at Kavresthali near its natural habitat and four were rescued from Chhyamale, Dakshinkali municipality with the help of team member Mr. Subodh Acharya. All of these snakes were released to their natural habitat in the presence of forest officials.
Save The King Presentations & Snakebite Management Training in Various Districts of Nepal
Besides the Save The King programs conducted in various communities and schools, Kamal and his team also presented and shared to governments’ institutions in different districts of Nepal. These programs were specifically targeted to government’s medical professionals working on various snakebite treatment centres or healthcare centres. Some policy makers were also present in these programs. The team distributed Save The King brochures and posters to them. The list of various programs organized by governments’ institutions in different districts of Nepal where they were invited and have presented about their ongoing “Save The King” programs are as follows:
1. Organized by Mid-West University and Nepal Toxinology Association at Mid-West University, Birendranagar, Surkeht, Nepal. February 27, 2022
2. Organized by Karnali Province Government, Ministry of Social Development, Health Service Directorate, Birendranagar, Surkhet at Province Hospital, Surkhet, Nepal. February 26-28, 2022.
3. Organized by Division Forest Office, Kapilvastu at Kapilvastu, Nepal. February 10, 2022.
4. Organized by Health Training Centre, Bagmati and supported by FIAR MED at Jhamsikhel, Kathmandu, Nepal. December 28, 2021.
5. Organized by National Academy of Medical Sciences and supported by World Health Organization and Ministry of Health and Population, Department of Health Services, Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, Teku Kathmandu, Nepal at Bir Hospital. November 22-25, 2021.
6. Organized by Health Training Centre, Butwal and supported by FIAR MED and Nepal Leprosy Trust Dhanusha at Lalgadh, Dhanusha, Nepal. October 27-31, 2021.
7. Organized by Ministry of Health and Population, Health Training Centre, Gandaki Province, Pokhara at Daldale, Nawalpur, Nepal. October 24-26, 2021.
8. Organized by Kanchanrup Municipality, Saptari at PHC, Kanchanpur, Saptari, Nepal. September 4-5, 2021.
9. Organized by Health Training Centre, Lumbini Province, Butwal and supported by FIAR MED at Bheri Hospital, Nepalgunj, Banke, Nepal. August 30-September 1, 2021.
10. Organized by Lamahi Municipality at Lamahi Hospital, Dang, Nepal. July 15-16, 2021.
11. Organized by Far-Western Province Government, Ministry of Social Development, Health Directorate, Dipayal, Doti at Health Training Centre, Dhangadhi, Kailali, Nepal. March 3-5, 2021.
12. Organized by Nepal Zoological Society at Lumbini Province Zoological Seminar, Butwal. February 5-6, 2021.
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