Visiting Agumbe was always on my wish list & monsoon is the best time to visit. Darter led by Shreeram was conducting a photography tour at Agumbe & I confirmed my participation. This tour was accompanied with famous Herpetologist and Rain forest expert Gowri Shankar who had featured in ‘The King and I’ and ‘Secrets of the King Cobra ‘by BBC and the National Geographic Channel.
Agumbe is a beautiful village situated on the top of Someshwara Ghat & is surrounded by picturesque nature with lush green, as this place receives an annual rainfall upto 11000mm so referred as Cherrapunji of South India. Agumbe is 643mts above sea level, lies in core of the western ghats which is identified as world’s Biodiversity hot spots.
Agumbe rain forest has many mammals , birds, insects & herps which are endemic to this region & in particular Agumbe is a flagship of world famous longest venomous snake the “King Cobra” .
Well my journey starts with an overnight bus from Bangalore & reached Agumbe at 7:00am, we were greeted by lush green surroundings & pouring rainfall, I would say its awesome to see Agumbe in this way.
Soon a waiting Bolero & a van picked us from the busstop to the ARRS base camp. Finally laid foot on wet ground gussling water stream with 2feet zero visibility foggy place accompanied with background amphitheater music of insects, malabar whistling thrush & tic tic taaat sound of frogs , laughing calls of Malabar Horn bills..Wow its a heaven on earth. Soon I found leeches somersaulting on my pants & greeting with a welcome gesture 😉
ARRS belongs to Draco trust & Rom Whitaker started this setup during 2005.
Photographed by Sanjeev Pednekar
ARRS has a main building called the camp with dining area, kitchen, toilets & a dormitory for Researchers & Students. It has a separate office with a library for those who come here for carrying out research studies. ARRS is well maintained using solar powered lights & use of fresh water from streams. Hot water was available 24hrs a day during our stay.
We were told to pitch tents at nearby places & come to main building only for food & freshen up.
A hot water face wash , yummy breakfast & kadak tea was a kickoff for the day, Soon Gowri got a rescue call on his mobile that a King Cobra was seen inside a villagers store room.
Store room where the King cobra (Female) was found .
Gowri led our team to the spot , We were allowed to help in clearing the pile wood in orderly manner & told to observe from safe a distance. Finally after 3hours of teamwork the King was brought out by Gowri & Prashanth. It was then showed to us how they handle the king in gentle manner, to my knowledge the way others catch a snake shown on tv in other parts of the world could be called “snake molesters“. It was entirely different here & I would say Gowri’s team handled it very gently as the king was very calm but gave us a breath taking look. It was then transferred to a big bag & headed to the release place. When released in the forest King gave one more royal look at us & moved into the dense forest with its head raised 2feet from ground for about a distance & then puff it disappeared. Wow!! the entry & exit was a royal King’s way 😉 ”
Prashanth releasing the King in the forest.
King giving a dare look when released.
Wow what a feeling seeing King at 5 feet in the forest. We were then briefed on how ARRS is working on towards protecting this wonderful species & really they are doing their best. Every villager in Agumbe salutes Gowri when seen & he has gained this faith by educating the local villagers by meeting them personally , briefing children at schools, & also the forest department. These endemic species convey a strong message “Needs to be protected”.
It was a great pleasure to watch the King on move & also felt equally honoured that I shook the hands of the King (Gowri)
Prashanth, incharge of ARRS is taking care of arranging logistics & getting the work done from local people, take rescue calls when Gowri is not around or travelling as he is equally trained in doing so.
This group photo was taken on the last day of the tour 🙂
Thanks for reading, Watch out for more photographs & write-ups on flora & fauna of Agumbe in my next posts.