The King Cobra

The First International King Cobra Symposium 2017
6th  and  7th  of October 2017.

The King Cobra is truly a remarkable animal, the biggest venomous snake on earth. This majestic species is revered and feared throughout its range.
The natural habitat of these animals is feeling the pressure from human development, climate change and pollution , making life for the king more and more challenging. Many of them are also killed out of fear, leading to the decline of the species. Current statistics of how many there are left in the wild are unknown, but researchers are noticing a declining population trend for this regal snake.
The king is an important snake species for the overall balance in nature. Recent studies also concluded that the Kings’ venom is medically important and can be used as a powerful painkiller (among other things).
A lot of work needs to be done as well as research about its behaviour and venom to help protect it.
Protection of this species will also help protect their natural habitat and all other species that depend on it. The King is therefore a “flagship” species for conservation and habitat protection in its Asia.

The very first International King Cobra Symposium will feature the biggest experts, herpetologists, toxicologists and biologists from all over the world to talk about the important issues in King Cobra biology and conservation and aims to ignite cooperation of all parties as well as raise funds towards the preservation of the superior species of serpents.

Talks on King Cobra conservation, research in its natural behaviour as well as toxicology and youth participation in wildlife protection will be topics discusses in the symposium and participants are encouraged to play an active role in the symposium by joining the Question and Answer sessions.

Never before has such a prestigious line up come together to make an important step in furthering research and protection of one of the most iconic snakes in the world.
Visitors to the symposium will also witness a presentation about a scientific breakthrough in cobra research and venom evolutionary development apart from being able to walk through exhibitions from reptile and conservation related establishments.
This symposium will be a must for all that enjoy nature and wildlife.

We look forward to welcoming you at The First International King Cobra Symposium 2017!

A flagship species
for the conservation
of tropical rainforest

Speakers

Meet our most valued speakers

ROMULUS E. WHITAKER, INDIA

Madras Crocodile Bank / Centre for Herpetology

Madras Crocodile Bank / Centre for Herpetology

    JOE WASILEWSKI, USA

    Crocodile specialist group

    Crocodile specialist group

      DR BRYAN GRIEG FRY, AUSTRALIA

      Venom Evolution Laboratory, School of Biological Sciences

      Venom Evolution Laboratory, School of Biological Sciences

      DR. COLIN STRINE, PHD, U.S.A./THAILAND

      Sakaerat Conservation and Snake Education Team

      Sakaerat Conservation and Snake Education Team

      MATT GOODE, PHD, U.S.A.

      School of Natural Resources and Environment

      School of Natural Resources and Environment

        Mark O’Shea, United Kingdom

        Herpetologist, renowed tv presenter and author of several books including: "Venomous Snakes of the World"

        Herpetologist, renowed tv presenter and author of several books including: "Venomous Snakes of the World"

        Bartosz Nadolski, Thailand

        Founder of Sakaerat Najas Project

        Founder of Sakaerat Najas Project

          GOWRI SHANKAR, India

          Gowri Shankar is a PHD candidate at North Orissa University

            Schedule

            The King Cobra is the world's longest venomous snake, reaching lengths of up to six meters. King Cobras have a massive range, extending from southwestern India to the Philippines, and southern China to the Indonesian Archipelago. Importantly, King Cobras often function as apex predators in the forested ecosystems in which they occur, playing a critical role in ecosystem processes. Their role in top-down structuring of tropical communities, highlights the importance of protecting these magnificent snakes. Furthermore, the King Cobra likely acts as an umbrella species, because they maintain large home ranges, which, if protected, would provide large tracts of habitat that accommodate a host of other species. Indeed, conservation of King Cobras, and the habitats on which they depend, may be an effective method for creating biodiversity reservoirs and sustaining natural environments. And finally, King Cobras are a highly charismatic species, and given the species’ notoriety and importance, both ecologically and culturally, we attempt to make the case for King Cobras as an excellent flagship species for conservation

            Matt Goode, USA

            We observed male combat, courtship/ mating and cannibalism in wild king cobras. Behavioural elements such as approach, rearing, vigilance, displacement, tongue flicking, retreat, resting and yawning were common to male combat (agonistic context) and courtship / mating (reproductive context). While approach, rearing, vigilance, displacement were more frequent in male combat, head butting, tongue flicking and head jerking were common during courtship. We also report possible polyandry in this species for the first time.

            Gowri Shankar, India

            King cobras in Thailand are woefully persecuted. They are killed by government officials even though they are protected by Thai law. Often seen as the most dangerous Thai snake, there is a major disconnect between the reality of king cobra behaviors and the perceived threat to humans. Every single school group the Sakaerat Conservation and Snake Education Team has surveyed listed the king cobra as the most dangerous and likely to bite humans of all snakes in Thailand. This fear, and recognition can be shifted to respect. By showing real behaviors near humans, and by displaying the story of these fascinating animals we can make a difference. The key has been long term exposure to conservation team members focused exclusively on developing the relationship between humans and these fascinating animals. Sakaerat Conservation and Snake Education Team firmly believes that humans and king cobras can coexist without persecution, and thus our fundamental value is education.

            Dr Colin Strine, Thailand

            Electrosurgery, an effective technique for the complete excision of an enlarged chondrosarcoma from the vertebral column of an adult female King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah). Solid neoplasms, chondrosarcomas and osteosarcomas, are rarely seen in reptiles and have therefore received little attention. In snakes they are most frequently associated with the vertebral column and are invariably seen as terminal and untreatable. Most are diagnosed postmortem as euthanasia is often recommended. However, reptilian chondrosarcomas exhibit low-grade malignancy unlikely to cause metastasis, and therefore remain very localized. The excision of all affected tissue should result in a complete cure but this is difficult to achieve using conventional surgical techniques. A 3.0 m, 14-15 year old, adult female King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) in the Mark O’Shea’s Reptile World collection at West Midland Safari Park, Worcs. UK, presented with a large vertebral chondrosarcoma, which was incompletely removed using convention surgical techniques in 2009. The tumour reoccurred and demonstrated rapid regrowth through 2011 and 2012. In May 2012 she was operated upon successfully using revolutionary electrosurgical techniques and it is believed that the entire neoplasm and all affected tissues have been completely excised. Alfaxalone was chosen as the preanaesthetic, and Isofluorane rather than Ketamine was the chosen anaesthetic. We believe this to be the first such electrosurgical operation to excise a reptilian vertebral chondrosarcoma, and it demonstrates that solid neoplasms in snakes are an entirely treatable condition which should not result in remission and regrowth of the tumour. Recovery was rapid and uneventful, the cobra feeding and sloughing as normal within weeks of the operation and whilst observations continue the histopathology report and prognosis are extremely favourable. The tumour did not return and the cobra showed no outward signs of further illness. She died, seemingly of old age, three years later.

            Mark O'Shea

            The youth hold the keys to the future and with this ideal in mind the Herpetofauna Foundation is working hard to develop various educational programs for school children. In 2016 the foundation developed an educational program for children from the ages 4 to 12 and it was clear how enthusiastic the children are to work and learn through these programs. The Herpetofauna foundation aims to develop more of these programs according to specific themes so they can be intertwined with the school’s curriculum. In this way the children get more actively involved in conservation. Passion for nature in children will lead to more involved citizens that won’t take nature and its creatures for granted.

            Rogier van Rossem, The Netherlands

            Fungi are omnipresent throughout almost all ecosystems. They have a crucial role in converting dead biomass into useful nutrients for other organisms. At the same time, however, certain species of pathogenic fungi threaten crops, cattle, wildlife, and human health. Therefore, combatting these pathogenic fungi is socially and economically important. The acquired resistance of fungi against commonly used fungicides is of increasing concern, and is caused by the widespread use of antifungals in the environment. Additionally, due to human toxicity and environmental concerns, the use of common fungicides is becoming increasingly restricted. It is therefore critical to develop durable and environmentally friendly fungicides. These next generation fungicides have the potential to maintain biodiversity, assist with the efficient production of food crops, and combat fungal infections in humans and animals.

            Sefanne Hakken, The Netherlands

            King cobras are prolific snake eaters, consuming both venomous and non-venomous species. Through the radio-telemetric study on King cobras we documented two non-translocated wild adult males feeding on Malabar pit vipers (Trimeresurus malabaricus) and Hump-nosed pit vipers (Hypnale hypnale), for the first time. Other prey included Indian rat snakes (Ptyas mucosa) and Spectacled cobras (Naja naja). We also documented scavenging in King cobras for the first time. Prey-specific predation tactics were also observed. We recorded voluntary submergence of King cobras in water-bodies while foraging or hunting and their apnoea capacities. We studied behavioural responses towards weather conditions and season based temporal variations in movement and activity budget. We also documented high site fidelity in both the individuals. Interestingly, even though the home-ranges of King cobras highly overlap, there was no interaction between individuals observed during non-breeding season.

            Dhiraj Bhaisare, India

            Since March 2015, we have radio tracked Five King Cobras. Preliminary data reveal that King Cobras moved 14.2 km over a 100 day period. Snakes were the main prey of King Cobras, including Sumatran Spitting Cobras. King Cobras used palm oil most of the time, but also periodically used adjacent riverine riparian forests. Our preliminary data on habitat use indicates the importance of maintaining relatively intact native habitat within and adjacent to palm oil plantations. In the future, our goal is to use what we learn from intensive radio telemetry on these snakes to guide us in determining the size and configuration of protected areas needed to sustain reptile diversity in areas where the demand for agricultural lands is high.

            Muhammad Silmi, Indonesia

            King cobras are found in many parts of India where optimum conditions occur. They occur in a wide variety of habitats including rainforest, deciduous forest, grasslands and mangrove swamps. They have been seen at over 2000 metres elevation in the lower Himalayas and are also found in the Andaman Islands. While king cobras are revered in some parts of India they are frequently killed on sight because of the fear they generate and have become rare both because of killing and loss of habitat. King cobra conservation and research was first started in Agumbe, Karnataka in 2005 by the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station.

            Romulus Whitaker, India

            The cytotoxicity of venom from 25 species of Old World elapid snakes were tested and compared with the morphological and behavioural adaptations of hooding and spitting. Here we show that contrary to perceived wisdom, the venoms of spitting species were not consistently found to be more cytotoxic than those of closely related non-spitting species. While this was the case for African cobras relative to African spitting cobras, it was not the case for Asian cobras relative to Asian spitting cobras. However, a consistent correlation was detected between cytotoxicity and utilisation of the defensive hooding display that cobras are famous for – species that hood possess more cytotoxic venom. Hooding and spitting are uncontroversially regarded as defensive adaptations, but it has hitherto been uncertain whether cytotoxicity serves a defensive purpose or is somehow useful in prey subjugation. The results of this study suggest that cytotoxicity evolved primarily as a defensive innovation and that it has co-evolved alongside hooding behaviour indepently the cobras versus king cobras. The results also suggest that spitting evolved (3 times independently) secondary to the evolution of venom rich in cytotoxins, i.e. secondary to the evolution of venom worth spitting. The results of this study make an important contribution to our growing understanding of the selection pressures shaping the evolution of snake venom and its constituent toxins. They are also of significance in elucidating the relationship between these selection pressures and the medical impact of human snakebite, particularly in the developing world, as cytotoxic cobras cause considerable morbidity, including loss-of-function injuries that result in economic and social burdens, in Tropical Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

            Dr Bryan G Fry
            13.45 - 14.15pm
            Ecology study and conservation efforts of wild King cobras (Ophiophagus Hannah) in Central Western Ghats of India

            “Snake rescue” is becoming a common term, and refers to individuals or teams who rescue people from snakes- and vice versa!- in homes, gardens, offices and other places where they turn up, unexpected and unwelcome. These are mostly small, non-venomous snakes like rat snakes, wolf snakes and trinket snake. But the call to solve such a conflict situation at ARRS have a slightly more challenging job, one which has been recognized and praised by scientists, conservationists, journalists and in fact all who have been lucky enough to visit ARRS. ARRS spells Agumbe Rainforest Research Station and was set up by India’s renowned Herpetologist Mr. Romulus Whitaker for the conservation of this biodiversity hotspot in the Western Ghats of India. The king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), endangered throughout its world range, has managed to survive in this ecosystem in spite of shrinking forest and expanding development. A major reason for its survival is the enlightened attitude of the community. They do not harm or kill king cobras, recognizing them as gentle giants which are also vital links in the natural chain. Tolerance and “live and let live” is one thing, but no-one really wants a king cobra hanging about in their kitchen! Being the largest venomous snakes in the world and endowed with highly potent neurotoxic venom, till yet there is no ASV for bite of king cobra in Western Ghats of India. After the king cobra Telemetery Project in ARRS, we learnt a lot about wild king cobra ecology and breeding biology.

            Ajay Giri, India

            Monocled Cobra Naja kaouthia and Indo-Chinese Spitting Cobra Naja siamensis, are together responsible for the third highest number of envenomation’s, and second for snakebite mortalities in Thailand. The study aims to identify spatial ecology of N. kaouthia and N. siamensis, at the Sakaerat Biosphere Reserve (SBR) in north east Thailand, and to develop a snake bite prevention programme. Cobras were captured in forested and residential areas using active survey, passive trapping and community notification. Thirty-five N. siamensis and twenty-one N. kaouthia have been captured between September 2012 to August 2017. Of these we fitted eight N. kaouthia (6,2) and fifteen N. siamensis (10,5) with internal radio transmitters. Daily radio tracking has begun to elucidate movement patterns for the 22 cobras tracked for minimum of forty-seven days, providing large quantities spatial and behavioural data. To August 2017, analysis shows N. kaouthia characterises with bigger minimum convex polygon (MCP) home ranges (with average of 200.1 ha) than N. siamensis (averaging at 17,65 ha). Mean Kernel density estimation area (50%) for N. kaouthia is 19.8 ha and 115 ha for 95%, while 2.53 ha and 14.9 ha for N. siamensis respectively. During the period of study we recorded seven human caused mortalities of radio tracked individuals, indicating a need for public education and cobra conservation in the study area. N. kaouthia was located dominantly in Dry Evergreen Forest while N. siamensis in human dominated landscape.

            Bartosz Nadolski, Thailand

            Hybridization with the green iguana (Iguana iguana) is seen as one of the greatest threats for the survival of the endangered Lesser Antillean Iguana (Iguana delicatissima). Invasive Green iguanas have been spreading throughout the Lesser Antilles, resulting in the extirpation of I. delicatissima on many islands within its natural range. Historically I. delicatissima occured in the Leeward islands from Anguilla to Martinique. Now approximately only 17% of this range remains unaffected by hybridization, or was lost as a result of other factors including the introduction of the Asian mongoose (Herpestes javanicus), and overhunting. In early 2016 an adult female green iguana was discovered on St. Eustatius, and since then a further 8 hybrids of varying generations were found. All the hybrids that we discovered were in the same general area, however, dense forest and a lack of resources make it extremely difficult to find these invasive iguanas. Hybridization is still at a very early stage on St. Eustatius, therefore it is important that we act quickly to control the situation before another population of I. delicatissima is lost for ever.

            Tim van Wagensveld, The Netherlands

            Reptile. Amphibian and Fish Conservation the Netherlands (RAVON) is a Dutch NGO founded by volunteers in 1991. The main objective of these volunteers was the coordination of various herpetological monitoring projects. In 1999 we took the step towards becoming a professional office with the first two people coordinating aforementioned work. In the past 18 years RAVON flourished and expanded its projects to fundamental scientific research, in situ conservation, capacity-building, data-mining, raising public awareness and lobbying, always with a strong emphasis on herpetological- and later also ichthyological conservation. RAVON is heavily dependent on our volunteers and they play a central role in the conservation of both herpetological- and ichthyological biodiversity in the Netherlands. Volunteers are trained on different levels, ranging from participants in the general public (garden counts) up to professional ecologists specialized in one particular species. Their observations, data and conservation actions are an important basis for citizen science projects, ranging from long-term monitoring projects to participation in early-warning systems (e.g. fungal diseases) and specific field research (e.g. artificial light and its effects on amphibians). We will give an overview of the different citizens science projects and its spin-offs, which may inspire people in other countries.

            Raymond Creemers, The Netherlands
            13.45 - 14.15pm
            How to deal with infectious diseases with reptiles in captivity

            Reptile-keepers, as pets or for professional breeding purposes, are encountering more and more ‘hypes’ of infectious diseases. These diseases, e.g. CANV, IBD, cryptosporidiosis etc, can cause great panic. In this lecture , we will discuss the origin and causes of these diseases, the diagnosis and treatment and how we can prevent these ‘hypes’ in the future.

            Marc Maas, The Netherlands

            Dozens of volunteers from all around the world come to Northeast Thailand with one common goal: to become a King Cobra tracker for the Sakaerat Conservation and Snake Education Team. King Cobra trackers must be prepared to work long days in the field during very hot and humid conditions. Besides radiotracking King Cobras outreach in the surrounding villages is one of the main activities. Educating the local Thai people already saved many snakes including several King Cobras which joined the telemetry study after. All the hard work in the field is for a good cause. It is essential for long-term King Cobra conservation. How volunteers make a difference in King Cobra conservation is a lecture about the stories behind the data.

            Jory van Thiel, Netherlands

            Exotic veterinarians are different from other vets. They have additional training to learn far more about reptile and amphibian medicine than is covered in the usual education. During their study in veterinary medical school, veterinarians learn a lot about cats, dogs, rabbits, cows, horses, birds, and pigs and a few other species. To learn more about these reptiles medicine in the Netherlands, one needs the possibility to obtain hands-on experience in a Zoo with a lot of reptiles, a laboratory or at the university. Most problems with reptiles kept by private people are related to management, like housing, feeding and calcium – UV-deficiency. Education and preventive medicine are an important part of reptile medicine. During the presentation, Dr Peter Klaver will explain some aspects of treatment of reptile patients in his clinic, like a tumor in a snake, egg binding in tortoises, and skin problems.

            Dr Peter Klaver, The Netherlands

            King cobras (Ophiophagus hannah) are a vulnerable species yet surprisingly little is known about their natural history. We radio-tracked 14 king cobras (n= 11 males, n = 3 females) in the Sakaerat Biosphere Reserve (SBR) between 2015-2017. We located individuals 1-4 times daily, and recorded habitat, shelter, and climate data on each location. Using minimum convex polygons (MCP) and fixed kernels we identified king cobra home range sizes. The mean 99% MCP size for male king cobras in the SBR was 954.8 ha. The mean kernel activity center was 115.03 ha, and the mean kernel activity area was 892.8 ha. The animals used a variety of habitats, and their home ranges overlapped significantly with the transitional and buffer zones of the SBR. Conflicts arise with humans occasionally, which often result in snake mortality. Further assessment of habitat use within home ranges is necessary for future management plans.

            Cameron Hodges, USA

            As someone who has been focussed on snakes from a very early age, I always dreamed of seeing a king cobra in the wild. My first ‘hands-on’ experience with king cobras was assisting the legendary William Haast at the Miami Serpentarium. Later, when I set up India’s first snake park I spent many months searching the forests of the Western Ghats in south India. I finally found my first two wild king cobras in Agumbe where I later set up the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station with a focus on king cobra conservation and research. I also used the medium of film to publicize the beauty and plight of these magnificent snakes with two films for National Geographic and one for BBC Natural World.

            Romulus Whitaker, India

            For herpetologists, toxinologists, venom producers, and zookeepers, maintenance of a healthy collection of animals for research, venom-extraction purposes, and educational outreach is crucial. Proper husbandry practices are a must for ensuring the health of any institution’s collection. In addition to concerns associated with animal health, numerous daily activities involving the routine care and maintenance of a venomous collection can pose significant risks to employee safety. Not only must proper safety precautions be taken to minimize the risks associated with collection maintenance, but steps must also be taken to minimize stress placed on the specimens themselves, thus promoting a healthy collection that will sustainably yield the venom required for research.

            Dr Bryan G Fry, Australia

            An increase in the human population to over 9.6 billion people by 2050 especially in developing regions will directly affect the survival of wildlife. Species that have been the subject of phylogeographic studies worldwide are surprisingly low, particularly in the most biologically diverse areas, in the Old WORLD’S tropical regions. The king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), the longest venomous snake in the world, has a discontinuous distribution, and is threatened by habitat fragmentation. This scenario necessitates a study on its phylogeography. Dispersal abilities of terrestrial snakes, especially threatened venomous species such as the king cobra, could be hindered due to the increasing impact of various anthropologically induced activities. In this study, we will examine range-wide phylogeography and contemporary population genetic structure of the king cobra within India and reconstruct the biogeographic history of O. hannah in Southeast Asia. We will use morphometric measurements, genetics and natural history data to investigate historic and current genetic divergence, identify potential subpopulations and delineate Evolutionarily Significant Units (ESUs) and/or Management Units (MUs) for the long-term conservation of king cobras.

            Gowri Shankar, India

            In Sakaerat Biosphere Reserve nestled just above Wang Nam Khieo in Northeastern Thailand king cobras are incredibly secretive. Our four year monitoring program has yielded some insights into threats to king cobras within the region. It appears that the majority of threats are anthropogenic in nature. One particular king cobra (the largest tracked to date in Thailand at 4.4 m total length) ingested a plastic bag and subsequently died. Another adult male showed us remarkable insight into its mating preferences as he returned to the same female exclusively two years in a row. We will never know if he would have returned a third year because he was hit by a car on the highway prior to his third radio tracked breeding season. These animals hold many secrets, but humans are negatively impacting king cobra populations, particularly in Thailand. Ultimately we must identify the key threats and design grass roots implemented mitigation measures if we intend to truly conserve these animals in the rapidly changing habitat surrounding protected areas.

            Dr Colin Strine, Thailand

            Dr. Groenestein will lead you through an interesting puzzle, about the nature of diagnostics. During a demonstration he will particularly focus on a special diagnostic discipline : endoscopy

            Dr Paul Groenestein, The Netherlands

            Hybridization with the green iguana (Iguana iguana) is seen as one of the greatest threats for the survival of the endangered Lesser Antillean Iguana (Iguana delicatissima). Invasive Green iguanas have been spreading throughout the Lesser Antilles, resulting in the extirpation of I. delicatissima on many islands within its natural range. Historically I. delicatissima occured in the Leeward islands from Anguilla to Martinique. Now approximately only 17% of this range remains unaffected by hybridization, or was lost as a result of other factors including the introduction of the Asian mongoose (Herpestes javanicus), and overhunting. In early 2016 an adult female green iguana was discovered on St. Eustatius, and since then a further 8 hybrids of varying generations were found. All the hybrids that we discovered were in the same general area, however, dense forest and a lack of resources make it extremely difficult to find these invasive iguanas. Hybridization is still at a very early stage on St. Eustatius, therefore it is important that we act quickly to control the situation before another population of I. delicatissima is lost for ever.

            Tim van Wagensveld, The Netherlands

            “Snake rescue” is becoming a common term, and refers to individuals or teams who rescue people from snakes- and vice versa!- in homes, gardens, offices and other places where they turn up, unexpected and unwelcome. These are mostly small, non-venomous snakes like rat snakes, wolf snakes and trinket snake. But the call to solve such a conflict situation at ARRS have a slightly more challenging job, one which has been recognized and praised by scientists, conservationists, journalists and in fact all who have been lucky enough to visit ARRS. ARRS spells Agumbe Rainforest Research Station and was set up by India’s renowned Herpetologist Mr. Romulus Whitaker for the conservation of this biodiversity hotspot in the Western Ghats of India. The king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), endangered throughout its world range, has managed to survive in this ecosystem in spite of shrinking forest and expanding development. A major reason for its survival is the enlightened attitude of the community. They do not harm or kill king cobras, recognizing them as gentle giants which are also vital links in the natural chain. Tolerance and “live and let live” is one thing, but no-one really wants a king cobra hanging about in their kitchen! Being the largest venomous snakes in the world and endowed with highly potent neurotoxic venom, till yet there is no ASV for bite of king cobra in Western Ghats of India. After the king cobra Telemetery Project in ARRS, we learnt a lot about wild king cobra ecology and breeding biology.

            Ajay Giri, India

            Currently we find ourselves in the midst of the Sixth Mass Extinction. Amphibians, unfortunately, take centre stage in this event. Up to 40% of all amphibian species are endangered, making them the most endangered group of vertebrates on Earth. Declines can be (e.g.) attributed to climate change, habitat loss but also to various (emerging) infectious disease (often in synergy with other threats). These diseases can have major effects on single species but also on entire amphibian communities. During this presentation we will focus on several emerging infectious diseases (chytridiomycosis, ranavirosis, ranid herpes viruses and Dermocystid infections) in the Netherlands with special attention to the (salamander) killer fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, or Bsal for short. This pathogen causes chytridiomycosis in salamanders and reduced the Dutch Fire Salamander population to 0.01% of its former populations size in a couple of years. Bsal poses an immediate threat to all European Urodelans. We will give a brief overview which actions RAVON and its partners employ to study these diseases (with Bsal in particular), mitigate their effects and spread and how we aim to educate the (Dutch) public on the devastating effects of the various diseases have on amphibians.

            Tariq Stark, The Netherlands

            The King Cobra Conservancy is a non-profit organization founded by a group of dedicated conservationists, herpetologists, and artists, all of whom share a unique connection to Ophiophagus hannah. The KCC is dedicated to supporting ecological research and conservation initiatives aimed at determining the status of King Cobras in the wild, and identifying threats and solutions for future survival. We strive to develop a better understanding of the King Cobra’s role within the tropical Asian landscape, as well as their importance in human culture and their impact on the lives of people.

            Joe Wasilewski

            Many, if not most of us collected postage stamps at some time in our youth, but how many of us still do? Once treasured albums were squirreled away in cardboard boxes all over the country and never given a second thought, as we discovered new ways of filling our leisure time. This presentation is intended to send you scurrying up loft ladders, or down into basements, to search out and dust off those childhood treasures and maybe see some of their contents through fresh eyes. Thematics are postage stamp collections featuring a specific interest, such as lighthouses, locomotives, sport, dinosaurs, or, as in our case, living amphibians and reptiles. As a child my album contained two herpetological stamp issues: Poland 1963 and Romania 1965, and I could still picture them in my mind’s eye decades later. When I rediscovered my old albums a few years ago these two sets formed the basis of a new collection that now fills eight stamp albums. There are literally thousands of herp stamps out there, with new issues appearing on a regular basis, many costing only a few euros. We will explore the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in the world of herp postage stamps. We will uncover the beauty of some of these miniature works of art, and the accuracy with which our subject animals are sometimes portrayed. The diversity of frogs, turtles, crocodiles, snake and lizards immortalized on their tiny canvasses is amazing: Acrochordus, Atractaspis, Ramphotyphlops, they’re all there! But not all herp postage stamps are pleasing on the eye, nor are all the subject species accurately illustrated, as we will find, and the sin of plagiarism also stalks the world of stamps. This light and relaxing presentation culminates in a musical montage of herpetological postage stamps from around the world.

            Mark O'shea, United Kingdom
            13.45 - 14.15pm
            King Cobra Spatial Ecology and Conservation

            King cobras (Ophiophagus hannah) are a vulnerable species yet surprisingly little is known about their natural history. We radio-tracked 14 king cobras (n= 11 males, n = 3 females) in the Sakaerat Biosphere Reserve (SBR) between 2015-2017. We located individuals 1-4 times daily, and recorded habitat, shelter, and climate data on each location. Using minimum convex polygons (MCP) and fixed kernels we identified king cobra home range sizes. The mean 99% MCP size for male king cobras in the SBR was 954.8 ha. The mean kernel activity center was 115.03 ha, and the mean kernel activity area was 892.8 ha. The animals used a variety of habitats, and their home ranges overlapped significantly with the transitional and buffer zones of the SBR. Conflicts arise with humans occasionally, which often result in snake mortality. Further assessment of habitat use within home ranges is necessary for future management plans.

            Cameron Hodges, USA

            Monocled Cobra Naja kaouthia and Indo-Chinese Spitting Cobra Naja siamensis, are together responsible for the third highest number of envenomation’s, and second for snakebite mortalities in Thailand. The study aims to identify spatial ecology of N. kaouthia and N. siamensis, at the Sakaerat Biosphere Reserve (SBR) in north east Thailand, and to develop a snake bite prevention programme. Cobras were captured in forested and residential areas using active survey, passive trapping and community notification. Thirty-five N. siamensis and twenty-one N. kaouthia have been captured between September 2012 to August 2017. Of these we fitted eight N. kaouthia (6,2) and fifteen N. siamensis (10,5) with internal radio transmitters. Daily radio tracking has begun to elucidate movement patterns for the 22 cobras tracked for minimum of forty-seven days, providing large quantities spatial and behavioural data. To August 2017, analysis shows N. kaouthia characterises with bigger minimum convex polygon (MCP) home ranges (with average of 200.1 ha) than N. siamensis (averaging at 17,65 ha). Mean Kernel density estimation area (50%) for N. kaouthia is 19.8 ha and 115 ha for 95%, while 2.53 ha and 14.9 ha for N. siamensis respectively. During the period of study we recorded seven human caused mortalities of radio tracked individuals, indicating a need for public education and cobra conservation in the study area. N. kaouthia was located dominantly in Dry Evergreen Forest while N. siamensis in human dominated landscape.

            Bartosz Nadolski, Thailand

            Dozens of volunteers from all around the world come to Northeast Thailand with one common goal: to become a King Cobra tracker for the Sakaerat Conservation and Snake Education Team. King Cobra trackers must be prepared to work long days in the field during very hot and humid conditions. Besides radiotracking King Cobras outreach in the surrounding villages is one of the main activities. Educating the local Thai people already saved many snakes including several King Cobras which joined the telemetry study after. All the hard work in the field is for a good cause. It is essential for long-term King Cobra conservation. How volunteers make a difference in King Cobra conservation is a lecture about the stories behind the data.

            Jory van Thiel, The Netherlands

            Fungi are omnipresent throughout almost all ecosystems. They have a crucial role in converting dead biomass into useful nutrients for other organisms. At the same time, however, certain species of pathogenic fungi threaten crops, cattle, wildlife, and human health. Therefore, combatting these pathogenic fungi is socially and economically important. The acquired resistance of fungi against commonly used fungicides is of increasing concern, and is caused by the widespread use of antifungals in the environment. Additionally, due to human toxicity and environmental concerns, the use of common fungicides is becoming increasingly restricted. It is therefore critical to develop durable and environmentally friendly fungicides. These next generation fungicides have the potential to maintain biodiversity, assist with the efficient production of food crops, and combat fungal infections in humans and animals.

            Sefanne Hakken, The Netherlands
            13.45 - 14.15pm
            Foraging ecology and movement of King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) in Western Ghats, India

            King cobras are prolific snake eaters, consuming both venomous and non-venomous species. Through the radio-telemetric study on King cobras we documented two non-translocated wild adult males feeding on Malabar pit vipers (Trimeresurus malabaricus) and Hump-nosed pit vipers (Hypnale hypnale), for the first time. Other prey included Indian rat snakes (Ptyas mucosa) and Spectacled cobras (Naja naja). We also documented scavenging in King cobras for the first time. Prey-specific predation tactics were also observed. We recorded voluntary submergence of King cobras in water-bodies while foraging or hunting and their apnoea capacities. We studied behavioural responses towards weather conditions and season based temporal variations in movement and activity budget. We also documented high site fidelity in both the individuals. Interestingly, even though the home-ranges of King cobras highly overlap, there was no interaction between individuals observed during non-breeding season.

            Dhiraj Bhaisare, India

            Since March 2015, we have radio tracked Five King Cobras. Preliminary data reveal that King Cobras moved 14.2 km over a 100 day period. Snakes were the main prey of King Cobras, including Sumatran Spitting Cobras. King Cobras used palm oil most of the time, but also periodically used adjacent riverine riparian forests. Our preliminary data on habitat use indicates the importance of maintaining relatively intact native habitat within and adjacent to palm oil plantations. In the future, our goal is to use what we learn from intensive radio telemetry on these snakes to guide us in determining the size and configuration of protected areas needed to sustain reptile diversity in areas where the demand for agricultural lands is high.

            Muhammad Silmi, Indonesia

            The youth hold the keys to the future and with this ideal in mind the Herpetofauna Foundation is working hard to develop various educational programs for school children. In 2016 the foundation developed an educational program for children from the ages 4 to 12 and it was clear how enthusiastic the children are to work and learn through these programs. The Herpetofauna foundation aims to develop more of these programs according to specific themes so they can be intertwined with the school’s curriculum. In this way the children get more actively involved in conservation. Passion for nature in children will lead to more involved citizens that won’t take nature and its creatures for granted.

            Rogier van Rossem, the Netherlands

            Reptile-keepers, as pets or for professional breeding purposes, are encountering more and more ‘hypes’ of infectious diseases. These diseases, e.g. CANV, IBD, cryptosporidiosis etc, can cause great panic. In this lecture , we will discuss the origin and causes of these diseases, the diagnosis and treatment and how we can prevent these ‘hypes’ in the future.

            Dr Marc Maas, The Netherlands

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            6th October – Friday
            130
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            7th October – Saturday
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