In with the new, out with the old!

Hello all from the currently blue skied Sakaerat biosphere! We’ve been as busy as ever, mostly due to a high frequency of movements from every one of the Cobras we are tracking.  Also, due to three of our radiotelemetry receivers being in repair, keeping up with our snakes has proved challenging but we are rising to the task and gathering some great data as well as getting plenty of camera trap photos that will be posted online soon.


New to the team!

This month the Sakerat Najas team welcomed two new volunteers: Richy Pulman and Joseph Surivong.  Richy is due to stay for at least six months, and Joseph will return to university in September, with a view to returning to the Najas project – possibly to carry out research to aid in his dissertation for Msc.


In with the new, out with the old!

Although the Najas project would love to keep hard working and highly skilled trackers forever, we are aware that sometimes things come to an end. We have said goodbye (in style – with adventures, picnics & bbq’s) to two volunteers this month: Lydia Snow and Sam Smith. Both of these close friends had a great time here at SERS, learning lots, forming close friendships and working downright hard. Their tracking abilities are already missed, as is their presence.


Sam has returned to the USA (after a spot of travelling in Thailand) to continue with her studies and Lydia will be returning to England in search of more conservation work worldwide (but only after a well earned month off travelling around Cambodia).

From Bart and the Sakaerat Najas Project: thank you both so very much for the effort you’ve put in here during your stay. Your professional approach and integrity will surely land you in some great positions in the future. All the best, and good luck!

From everyone at SERS: We miss you and hope to see you both soon!

Herping with the Irulas

Last month we had pleasure to host a very special guests. Legendary snake catchers from Irula tribe (India). Masi and Vadivel are catching snakes for venom extraction, they agreed to visit Thailand and help us with snake surveys. Along with them came Gowri Shankar with his intern Prianka, a well known herpetologist from Bangalore and Ajay Kartik, head curator from Madras Crocodile Bank.

DSCF6605From left: Gowri Shankar, Vadivel, Masi, Bartosz Nadolski, Karolina Ciesielska, Prianka Swamy, Anji D’souza, Ajay Kartik.

We spent almost 280 man hours in the field. We captured 20 snakes of 11 species.



DSCF6721Two of four neonates of Pipe Snake Cylindrophus ruffus foundes in ome hole.

Rice Paddy Snake Enhydris plumbea in its burrow.

DSCF6642Ornate Flying Snake Chrysopelea ornata feeding on Toke Gecko Gecko gecko.

It was relay interesting to see how these people work in the field. They look for tracks left by snakes. By looking at animal burrow they can say if it was recently used by snakes.

DSCF6596Part of the burrow with well visible snake track. Once snake move in the hole he leaves smooth surface behind.

DSCF6682Who said that looking for venomous snakes need to be serious?

Between surveys we visited local Korean Barbecue. It is one of my very favorite ways to go out for social feeding.


Las part of our trip was visit in Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute. We met Dr Lawan that took us for a walk around facilities. We are keeping fingers cross for future collaborations.

King Cobra room.

After visiting backstage we took a tour around facilities for general audience. First we saw Monocled Cobra Naja kaouthia venom extraction.


After that we visited exhibitions with snakes of Thailand. Many of the species presented there can be found around Sakaerat Biosphere Reserve.

The fattest Monocled Cobra Naja kaouthia I have ever seen.

DSCF6790Prianka with King Cobra Ophiophagus hannah.

Finally after twelve days their trip come to the end. We are planing to organize two more visits in different part of year to find more snakes! Stay tuned.

Snake handling workshop for Rescue Teams

On 10th of July we had pleasure to be part of very special event. With Sakaerat Conservation and Snake Education Team and Sakaerat Environmental Research Station we hosted over 90 people from Rescue Teams. These people help rural communities in first aid, medical services, snake rescues and others.


Workshops started with presentation about snake ecology and their importance in ecosystems.


What makes me really happy is thet they treated it seriously… Quite few of them was even taking notes!!


In between lectures we invited guests to our field laboratory, where we presented them several snake species  including Siamese Cat Snake Boiga siamensis and Wolf Snake Lycodon laoensis. 


After exciting time with snakes we had nice meal. On the right side of the picture below there is Mr. Mee. He is one of main characters responsible for such a high interest in our snake handling training.  Currently he is working on bringing here more teams from across the Thailand. Good guy!


After lectures there was time for some practice. Here I am teaching how to set up bagging system properly.


Some of the students took workshop less seriously than others … 🙂


After sorting out baggers was time for snake handling presentations. We started with non venomous snakes like: 2m Oriental Rat Snake Ptyas mucosa and 12kg and 3 m Burmese Python Python bivittatus. Interesting fact about python is that this snake was capture night before the workshop and actually it is individual that we rescue from net almost two years before. On picture below me and Manuel are assisting volunteers with  handling big girl.


After non venomous snakes came time for “hot” stuff. First Curt and Mee shown how to work with Green Pit Vipers.


Last attraction of “snake show” was presentation on how to work with Monocled Cobra Naja kaouthia. In first place we presented new technique that me and Curt learned on our trip to India. DSC04666DSC04664

Idea is to use snake natural instinct to shelter in stress situations. We used PVC pipe with bag attached to one end. Rocks around pipe help to stabilize it and imitate a natural shelter. Next step was to present snake to the set up.


It is really good technique that works almost every time. Now we are looking forward to individual teams visiting us for an intensive snake handling training. Whole day was very demanding and exciting. Thank you all for your input! We made to nationwide news!

NAJA project update

Sorry for delays between posts. Things have been a bit manic on Naja team lately and we are now looking to get organised and stick to weekly updates (if our snakes cooperate). Just to give everyone a better idea of where we are at, here’s a quick summary of the last few months, what us, and our snakes have been up to:

NASI003 and NASI009

It is with heavy hearts that we can confirm that two of our radio tracked Naja siamensis individuals have been killed. NASI003 appears to have been eaten in the village, as we found the transmitter looking suspiciously clean in the bushes next to a house.  NASI009 was unfortunately pancaked onto the highway. What’s left of him, and the transmitter have been laid to rest in Bart’s fridge. What’s worse, it seems that both our snakes died on Christmas day! So all in all we are now down to just 3 snakes, a pretty devastating blow to the project (and our sample size!).

NAKA012 has been up to his old tricks, dragging Bart, Sami and Curtis through forests, thorns and more spider webs than you can count. However he has reduced his movements within the last few months (no doubt warming up for rainy season).

NAKA003 has remained in close proximity to the station making daily checks pretty easy.

NASI011, our most recently captured snake, has spent most of the last 3 months in a single hole. She’s just started venturing off into the villages so hopefully she’ll start to give us some interesting data soon (while staying out of trouble).

Curtis left!

So in early February after 6 months of hard work, Curtis Radcliffe, the Naja project’s 1st volunteer departed for home. Curtis was an excellent tracker and has been absolutely invaluable for the running of this project. We wish him all the best, and hope to convince him to come back out soon!

New volunteer!

So on a more uplifting note, the Naja project has recently been joined by our newest volunteer: Lydia Snow (and now her watch begins). You can find a bit out about Lydia Snow and what she’s been getting up to here.

So all in all a pretty busy few months. We are just now leaving cold season (below 20 degrees in the day, how did we even cope) and entering hot season (plus 40 in the day, motorbike seats have become a serious burn hazard!). This likely means more activity from our cobras, and hopefully, finding more snakes for the project.

We will keep you updated on our progress, snakes and any developments we have on the project. Stay tuned!


CAT goes snakey with SCSET and Sakaerat Najas Project

Hello everyone!

We are happy to inform you that legendary CAT agreed to support our project with two heavy duty smartphones (S30 and S40) that will allow us to collect data even in the toughest of conditions.


We will definitely get back to you about this devices once we have some more experience with them.

On picture you can see two Trimeresurus macrops Large Eyed Pitviper and Oligodon sp. Kukri snake.

Elongated tortoise

From time to time we are lucky to find some tortoise around the station. Species that I am on about is Indotestudo elongata commonly know as an elongated tortoise. They are awesome and I am happy to let you know that friend of ours will start radio tracking project with this guys in the beginning of next year.


“Magic mushrooms” aka glowing mushroom

One of the other nights, completely by  accident, I found glowing mushrooms about 50 m from my house. I was extremely happy because I wanted to see them as long as I remember. Below there are two shots of the same frame. I can not decide which one I like better…

What do you think?

Survey in a rice fields

Two nights ago we went on survey around the ponds in middle of rice paddies. With 3 other persons we manage to find two very cool snakes. First was Yellow Banded Krait Bungarus fasciatus. It was a really awesome to see that snake. Especially this size 🙂 Male is almost 1.7m long and 1.44kg. Most possible we are going to track it as a part of Sakaerat Snake Team research on venomous snakes leaving in rural areas.

Second snake was, Sunbeam Snake Xenopeltis unicolor. Normally very peaceful species, but this individual was freaking out when he smelt krait from my hands.