A Debt Repaid

Hello,
On behalf of the Sakaerat Najas Project, a huge shout out and thank you goes to the Sakaerat Conservaton and Snake Education Team (SCSET). Over the last few weeks the SCSET team have played a significant role in increasing our sample size by bringing in two new Naja siamensis (NASI021 and NASI022) and a new Naja kaouthia (NAKA017) all within a week, and all of whom have joined the burgeoning list of tracked snakes on the Naja Project. Not satisfied with that, whilst out tracking one of their King Cobras, SCSET trackers recently came across a second Naja kaouthia, and managed to capture NAKA018 for us. From their account of the event, NAKA018 was simply cruising along the dirt road in a eucalyptus plantation when they encountered him, and it seems all they had to do was place a bag in front of him and he kindly obliged by making his own way into the bag. Who knew it was so simple!

Unfortunately, however, due to the distance of his capture site and the fact that he’s a male, the decision was made not to track NAKA018. Therefore, after he was processed allowing us to take his biometric and genetic data enabling us see how he grows and develops should we ever run in to this most co-operative of snakes again. Bart and I, along with Jessie, a new member of the SCSET team and one of the guys who captured him, set off on our Kawasaki bikes to the plantation so he could be released. As we got to the capture location the wide-open space within the plantation gave an excellent opportunity for a few photographs, and after a quick photo shoot he was on his way back into the forest.

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Monocled Cobra Naja kaouthia during the release

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Monocled Cobra Naja kaouthia during the release

There was an hour or so of daylight left as NAKA018 departed, and as I had never been to this part of the station it was decided we should go for a quick ride around. We made our way through the plantations and grasslands stopping off here and there to get off the Kawasaki’s and have a mooch around on foot, but in all honesty seeing very little. Finally, we headed off to one last spot by small pool before we would head home.

Almost as soon as we’d got off the bikes and headed out in different directions on foot, I got the briefest of glimpses of a snakes tail disappearing into the undergrowth about 60 m down a steep sloping track. SNAKE! I shouted before running down the slope closely followed by Jessie and Bart. It was only as we got closer did we realise it was a King Cobra, and a big one at that. Seeing us, the snake took off and the three of us gave chase sprinting at full speed through the plantation just to keep up. 70 metres and an epic and intense 15 minutes later Bart had subdued the snake and he was in the bag safe and unharmed.

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3.2 m King cobra Ophiophagus hannah displaying defensive hooding behaviour at capture. 

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3.2 m King cobra Ophiophagus hannah displaying defensive, hooding behaviour at capture. 

 

 

He was indeed a big snake, measuring at 3.2 metres and weighing over 6 kg he was a fine specimen of a King Cobra. It was hardly a surprise when the SCSET team incorporated him into their study, and as of his release on the 8th April OPHA029 became the latest King Cobra to be tracked in the Sakaerat Biosphere Reserve.

The very next day and a call comes through to the station from the local Rescue Team. They had just captured a King Cobra, and so once again Bart and I were on our Kawasaki’s heading out of the station to meet up with them. This time at just few centimiters under 4 metres long and weighing in impressively at over 8.5 kg, OPHA030 was a mighty beast. So much so that unwittingly Bart and I found ourselves on the local TV news.

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Transferring captured King Cobra Ophiophagus hannah into the bag. This scen made its way to TV news.

The snake was transferred into a bag for transportation back to the station and delivery of yet another King Cobra to SCSET. Unfortunately, it was deemed to be from too far away for the team to consider it for the study but it was certainly a magnificent snake.

Just a few days later and once again we could help our neighbours at SCSET. This time it was Anji and her new Boiga cyanea Project. As we made our way out of the station at night after heavy rain, we were lucky enough to come across a beautiful Boiga cyanea, which was, untypically for this arboreal loving snake, crossing the road. As full grown adult at 1.5 metres its large enough for inclusion in Anji’s project and will become just the second snake in her exciting new study. Finally, with two King Cobras delivered, and a Boiga cyanea, our debt was paid in full.

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Anji with new Boiga captured by Curtis.

With the great collaborative efforts of SCSET, Sakaerat Najas Project and the Rescue Team’s co-ordinated by Mr. Mee, the future looks bright for snake conservation in Sakaerat.

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Photo with local Rescue Teams, SCSET and house owners after safe King Cobra removal.

 

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Green Pit Vipers from Thailand

Hello,

We would like to present you with one of the effects of our last Visit at Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute. We were lucky to photograph some of snakes kept in the institute.

This time we present you with several beautiful green pit vipers species.

Green Pit Vipers are responsible for biggest amount of envenomations in Thailand (about 40%). Their venom varies in toxicity between species, but all are primarily hemotoxic and considered to be medically significant to humans.

Bites can be avoided by using a light while walking in the dark and double check on dark places like log/rubbish piles before putting hands in.

 

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Malayan Krait (Bungarus candidus) foraging

Helo everyone in 2017.
In our first post this year we would like to show you Malayan Krait (Bungarus candidus) spotted within research station Sakaerat SERS. This species feed mainly on other snakes. On the video you can see snake foraging on the edge of small pond. Snake was checking hole by hole in the briks. We were hoping to document frog predation but not this time… Hope you enjoy.

Snake handling workshops for Rescue Teams

Last week we had a great opportunity to spread conservation through education. It wasn’t the first time we’ve participated in this kind of work, but it is always refreshing and satisfying considering the impact it has and the enthusiasm showed by the team and participants.

The local Rescue Service in Nakhon Ratchasima encounter snakes on a regular basis and are generally the first port of call for snake call outs in the province. It is therefore necessary for the safety of these individuals and the conservation of snakes for appropriate training in snake handling and ecology. The general knowledge we pass on about snakes and even the occasional dispelling of myths is then pass on further by the rescue teams to the public.

So in collaboration with Sakaerat SERS and คณะวิจัยงูสะแกราชเพื่อการศึกษาและการอนุรักษ์ – SCSET a training day was organised by SCSET and took place in SERS. The day consisted of educational presentations followed by some practical skills training with the snakes. The snakes we used on the day were Oriental Rat Snake (Ptyas mucosa), Reticulated Python (Malayopython reticulatus), Malayan Krait (Bungarus candidus) and Monocled Cobra (Naja kaouthia).

A good day done at Sakaerat Environmental Research Station!

Thank you to all involved and we look forward to educating more of the rescue team in Nakhon Ratchasima and others in the future! If you would like more information and/or would like to take part in this kind of training please get in touch with the Sakaerat Najas Project and we will happily help where we can.

 

Yellow-striped Rat Snake Coelognathus flavolineatus

Hello,

Last week we opened a new passive trap in a stream bed within the Dry Evergreen Forest of Sakaerat SERS. After just one night of trap closure, a rarely seen Yellow-striped Rat Snake Coelognathus flavolineatus was found during early morning checks. It was the second individual encountered here over 3 years making it a great find.

This species grows up to 1.8m in length and is terrestrial (with good climbing skills). A constrictor that preys on small mammals, eggs and frogs, it is crepuscular (active at dusk)/nocturnal and oviparous with clutch sizes from 5 to 12 eggs. NON VENOMOUS.

The picture below is juvenile of this species.

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And the sub-adult female recently captured in the trap.

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The Leopard Cat

Spotted Saturday @ Sakaerat Najas Project

The Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) is a small felid species with a range spanning India to the Far East of Russia and Indochina. It is a solitary animal, living mostly in tropical evergreen forests. One of our field researchers was lucky enough to spot one crossing the road here at Sakaerat SERS recently.

Leopard Cats hunt at night, and feed mainly on prey such as small mammals, lizards and birds as well as large insects. Here in Sakaerat Biosphere Reserve they share their environment with the Asian Golden Cat (Catopuma temminckii) which is larger and able to predate even on deer species, therefore direct competition is rare.

(Not) Fun fact: The Leopard Cat has been mated with domestic cats since the ‘60s to produce hybrid offspring known as the Bengal cat. Since these hybrids are often sterile, the demand for pure Leopard Cats is high and the species continues to be hunted throughout most of its range for fur, food, and as pets.

This image shows a Leopard Cat in front of the shelter of a radiotracked Monocled Cobra (Naja kaouthia).

 

Photos By Trail Camera