Nine king cobra eggs hatch, to the delight of forest personnel, wildlife enthusiasts
In what is described as a unique event, eggs laid by a king cobra 100 days ago in a nest it set up in a cashew plantation of a settler farmer near Kottiyur here hatched, much to the delight of wildlife enthusiasts and Forest Department officials who had been involved in safeguarding the nest as part of their conservation activities.
The king cobra that had laid nearly 20 eggs in the last week of April in the cashew plantation of Mathew Velikkakath hatched in the early hours of Tuesday. The spectacle was watched by herpetologist Gouri Shankar, wildlife enthusiast Vijay Neelakantan, and forest personnel. The cashew plantation is close to the Kottiyur Forest Range. Forest officials said that nine eggs hatched. The king cobra and the hatchlings were released to the forest by forest personnel.
“It is the most unique event in Kerala as nobody has observed the hatching of eggs of a king cobra as it always happens deep inside the forest,” said Mr. Neelakantan, who had first spotted the nest. Chances of the eggs turning infertile were very high, said Mr. Neelakantan, who is also a herpetologist researching on king cobra.
Mr. Neelakantan had been first alerted by M.P. Chandran of the Forest Department’s rapid response team about the presence of the king cobra in the plantation, whose owner was scared of the development for obvious reasons. Though the forest personnel had wanted to immediately relocate the snake, Mr. Neelakantan convinced both the forest personnel and Mr. Velikkakath against relocation, saying that the snake was building the nest to lay eggs. The initial fear of Mathew evaporated and he also became involved in the conservation initiative.
Divisional Forest Officer Sunil Pameedi told The Hindu that the hatchlings were released into forests in the Kottiyur, Aralam, and Kuttupuzha areas. He said the forest personnel did everything to protect the area where the eggs were laid.
A few months ago, the authorities at the Parassinikkadavu snake park had made an effort to ensure successful hatching of eggs laid by the king cobra there. The eggs had all turned infertile. The herpetologists say there were hundreds of reasons why artificial breeding of king cobra could fail.