iHerp Australia Issue 6 - Page 44

The King Needs YOU! Unique opportunity to assist in King Cobra field research. The Agumbe Rainforest Research Station is currently offering a unique opportunity for herping enthusiasts from around the world to participate in Phase II of their King Cobra Ecology and Conservation project (KCEC). Founded by leading Indian herpetologist Romulus Whitaker in 2005, the ARRS is situated inside the Agumbe Reserved Forest in southern India’s Western Ghats, and is an eco-friendly facility that conducts a wide variety of field-based research projects as well as education and outreach in the local community. being used in management of King Cobras in the region. The ARRS was responsible for the world’s first radio- telemetry project involving King Cobras (Ophoiophagus hannah), which was also the first of its kind in India. Insight gained from this study is already The primary questions to be answered involve foraging patterns, home range, habitat utilization, diet, interaction with other King Cobras and, hope- fully, recording nest building, nest mainte- nance and attendance by the females. Recently, the ARRS embarked on a second phase of King Cobra radio-telemetry, and is recruiting volunteers to assist with tracking and observation. This project consists of implanting King Cobras with transmitters and tracking them, using receivers, through their natural habitat to learn about the habits, biology and conservation of these remarkable creatures. Food and accommodation will be provided with basic amenities. The volunteers will be living in the midst of rainforests at the ARRS field station near the village of Agumbe. Primary selection criteria are physical fitness (for field work), a willingness to work during challenging weather conditions, a passion for conservation, and a minimum commitment period of one month. This important and exciting phase of the project commenced March 2018 and should run for a couple of years, based on the battery life of the transmitters. More volunteers are required and slots are now open until September 2018. Rom Whitaker and his dedicated team are world leaders in the study of King Cobra ecology. This would be an amazing, once in a lifetime experience for anyone with an interest in herpetology, and iHerp Australia would love to hear from any of our readers who become involved. If you are interested, please contact: operations@agumberainforest.org. Above left: Dr Matt Goode briefing first-toime King Cobra radio trackers. Image by Rom Whitaker. Left: courting pair of King Cobras, western Ghats, south India. Image courtesy ARRS.