Habitat mapping of monocled cobra and snakebite management in Sonitpur district

North East India is one of the richest biodiversity zones in the world. Sonitpur in Assam is the second largest district with mighty Brahmaputra flowing to its south. The district has numerous cultivation lands and is surrounded by adjacent national parts and wildlife sanctuaries, creating a diverse ecological pool. However, human animal conflict has always been a serious threat to this ecology and is a matter of immense concern for maintaining the diversity in the state. The current project concentrates on habitat mapping/conservation of Naja kaouthia (Monocled cobra) and snakebite management.  The project emphasizes on community based conservation and snakebite management through various awareness programs. Additionally, scientific inputs including phylogenetic study of the cobra species and others are also associated following proper channels.

Project location:

District:        Sonitpur
State:        Assam
Country:    India
Co-ordinates:    26.5° N - 27.0° N latitudes, 92.3° E - 93.8° E longitudes

Maps showing geographic location of Sonitpur District

The habitat for Naja kaouthia is near tropical rain forests, cultivation lands, swampy areas, water bodies and mostly within human settlement areas. In this project we propose that Naja kaouthia of North East India needs immediate attention. Along with the venomous species, its non-venomous counterparts like rat snakes (Ptyas mucosa) are the common victims of killing by humans.

Various non-venomous snakes which are often killed are being rescued.

Rat snake
Wolf snake
Copper headed trinket
Monocled cobra
Banded krait

Even harmless snakes like copper headed trinkets are victims. We the people consider all snakes as venomous and whenever sighted these snakes are killed, captured or displaced from their habitat. Therefore conservation of monocled cobra along with other species is a prime objective of the current project.

Assam has numerous venomous and non-venomous snake species. Out of the venomous species, monocled cobras and banded kraits are the commonly sighted snakes in human habitats. Snakebite in Assam affects mainly those involved in subsistence farming activities. In Assam/ Monocled cobra is often the species responsible for fatal bites and serious injuries in the victim’s physiology. Poor communication facilities and access to health service, scarcity of antivenom often leads to considerable mortalities and morbidities. Many in the rural areas seek treatments from traditional healers and thereby fail to reach medical facilities in time which leads to fatal news.

Immediate primary measures to be taken on snakebite

Illiteracy and superstitions are also the prime reasons for suffering due to venomous bites. In addition to mortalities, envenomation morbidities such as permanent physical sequelae due to local tissue necrosis and psychological sequelae are notable. Also, when a young member of a family gets bitten, economic impact of snakebite can be considerable. Hence this project is also working for community based conservation by interaction and conducting awareness programs in villages.

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