The king cobra is not just a snake eater as its generic name might suggest. While its main diet does consist of snakes, it will also catch and eat monitor lizards. That’s what happened when Gopal Bansal and Ajay Giri stumbled upon a massive king cobra ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋɪɴɢ a monitor lizard.
Speaking to The Hindu, Rajesh, who took all the pictures barring one which was taken by his son Yogesh, said: “Watching and documenting a king cobra catching and sᴡᴀʟʟᴏᴡɪɴɢ a monitor lizard was a dream come true for us; it was the first such instance in our 50-year career.”
When Rajesh and elder brother Naresh landed at the Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand, they were greeted with incessant rain. “On the first day, we witnessed the first monsoon showers. Next day, it again rained heavily. But the rain failed to dampen our spirits as we were determined to find a king cobra rummaging in the wild.”
“Some visitors were curious to spot the tiger but for us it was only the king cobra, which is the world’s longest venomous snake. Since childhood we have been travelling to Corbett but have never once managed to spot one. During those days, the locals believed that king cobras did not thrive there,” said Naresh.
But a few days later they spotted a king cobra in a dense forest and came across an astonishing sight. The king cobra was catching a monitor lizard.
“This king cobra is nearly 12 feet long. Its intelligence could be gauged from the fact that it first scanned the entire area before doing chemical analysis through its forked tongue. It followed the scent of its ᴘʀᴇʏ like a keen hunter. As soon as a king cobra bites its prey, the poison starts affecting the nervous system and the ᴘʀᴇʏ gets a ᴄᴀʀᴅɪᴀᴄ ᴀʀʀᴇsᴛ. In this case, the venomous monitor lizard did not get poisoned as it continued ʀᴇsɪsᴛɪɴɢ the hunter.”
The king cobra first ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋᴇᴅ the monitor lizard on the hip region. It then started sᴡᴀʟʟᴏᴡɪɴɢ the lizard head-first, he added.
In India, king cobras are found in the Andaman Islands, in the semi-evergreen and evergreen forests of the Western Ghats, in the mangrove swamps of Bhitar Kanika in Odisha, in the forests of the Himalayan foothills, and in the rain forests of north-east India. In some parts of Karnataka, notably, in the Agumbe region, king cobras are often seen in agricultural areas, and even venture close to human habitation, where their presence is still tolerated by most local people.