The first two parts of this article details about our experience of living with leeches, getting deep into the rainforest, spotting interesting insects/reptiles, and living life slightly on the danger side.
In this (final) part, we will explain about our effort to spot King Cobra and living life even more dangerously.
When we stayed at ARRS (Agumbe Rainforest Research Station), there were few interns staying there on long term basis to study the behavior of King Cobra, and also to understand more about the biodiversity that exists in Agumbe.
On Day 2 morning, all of us (a team of 9, including our trip experts Amoghavarsha & Gowri Shankar) started walking inside the forest in search of King Cobra.
The radio telemetry project
ARRS was the first organisation to steer the radio telemetry project in India.
In this project, a small transmitter is surgically inserted into King Cobra and they are released back into the forest. With the help of a receiver in hand, the movement of King Cobras are tracked. The objective of this radio telemetry project is to study King Cobra management.
As part of the project — Daily movement pattern of King Cobras, obstacles they face, which are the active regions in which they search for prey — are all studied.
One of the interesting study from the project was — 70-80% of the time, the Cobras were found near or within human inhabited land. ARRS then takes steps to educate people in the region about taking necessary safety measures.
The team of 9 walked for about 2 km in search of King Cobra. One of the specialist at ARRS, Dheeraj, had spotted a cobra the previous night. He took all of us to that place.
In the picture below, you can see an old TV antenna like equipment — this is the receiver. We have to carry this entire setup and keep walking. As and when a King Cobra is tracked (via the radio signal emitted from the receiver inside its body) by the receiver, a mild sound can be heard from the device hung around the neck.
As and when we go near a King Cobra, the sound intensity increases and also a light blinks fast in the receiver device.
Finally, after 2 kms of walk, the receiver device made a loud noise. It took us few minutes to exactly locate the Cobra. The snake was long, thick and it was lying down inside a tree trunk.
Amogh and Gowri told us that the Cobra had just had its meal and hence it doesn’t want to move. For the first time, we saw the most enigmatic snake (King Cobra) in the world, in its own land (instead of a zoo).
Night trip into forest
After the long and tiring trek, we came back to ARRS and rested the entire evening. It was raining cats and dogs that night.
Imagine this scene — we are inside a forest, staying in ARRS that runs on solar power the entire day, all interesting reptiles/snakes/insects around ARRS, pitch dark outside ARRS, and it was raining like there won’t be anymore rain from the next day.
We decided to do the craziest thing — at 9 pm, all of us took our large sized umbrellas, completely covered us in raincoat, took our torch and camera, and walked into the forest to shoot pictures at night!
Every step on land was taken with caution. We walked slow, with all of us pointing torch lights in search of something interesting to photograph.
It was really challenging to take out our SLRs to shoot by simultaneously holding the umbrella and torch too.
We did manage to click some photos. Fungi that are only 1 cm tall.
A camouflaged Gekko. It was a difficult spot.
There’s an insect inside the gekko’s mouth. We saw its dinner-time action live.
That’s a Skink! Rare to spot.
An interesting looking Fungi.
After an hour of walk, we came back to ARRS and slept with countless frames of memories. We had the feeling that we had lived a totally different life in the past 48 hours.
Hey Agumbe, we will come back to you again. You deserve it.