DIGBOI, April 30 � A 12 ft 10 inches long female King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) weighing 10.3 kg was rescued from IOCL Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP), Digboi by two herpetologists of this region� Rajib Rudra Tariang, Asst. Professor of Zoology Dept. and Gauri Bura Gohain, Asst. Professor of English of Digboi College and Bibhas Mitra, an IOCL employee and wildlife photographer.
The trio was informed by the Senior Production Manager, BB Dey of the IOCL ETP section about the presence of the snake hiding in a water pump when some menials had first noticed it. It took nearly 10 minutes to control the snake and finally the King Cobra was captured by the trio and the requisite examination was done before releasing it in the Upper Dehing West Block Reserve Forest of Digboi, 500 m away from the rescue site as per norms of Wildlife Rehabilitation Plan. Immediately P Siva Kumar, IFS, DFO, SN Thakuria, ACF, and Bipul Borah, ACF of Digboi Forest Division were informed of the catch. The forest officials and the herpetologists selected a better site in the forest for its habitation and released it on the evening of April 24 after one day observation.
The King Cobra is protected under Wildlife (Protection) Act in Schedule II, as per Red Data Book. It is in Vulnerable Category and as per IUCN classification, it falls under Appendix II. If this snake is injured or killed, it may lead to imprisonment for a period from 6 months to 12 years. It is nocturnal by habit and it mainly feeds on other snakes which are smaller in size, sometimes rodents, small mammals and bird eggs.
As it chiefly feeds on other snakes, its genus name is Ophiophagus which means �snake eater�. It plays an important role in our ecosystem by controlling the other snake population and rodent population.
Normally it grows up to 11-14 ft. in length and the maximum length recorded earlier was 18.5 ft. in Thailand. It predominates in the western ghats (Karnataka, Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu), Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and in the North Eastern States. They can be distinguished from other cobras by size and hood marks. The female lays up to 40-60 eggs and is the only snake that builds nests to guard its eggs from natural enemies and the moment the eggs are about to hatch, it just leaves the nest and then go out to prey for itself and never comes back to see its young ones.