In 2014 I followed a local facebook group, where people can post their images of wildlife animals on Koh Phangan, an beautiful island in the Gulf of Thailand, which I call my home.
Almost regular I saw posts, where people showed images of killed reptiles. Mostly snakes, and often not even venomous or dangerous to humans or pets. I got really sick of watching it, and started to post my phone number in case someone gets a scaled intruder in house or garden. These snake killer posts appeared more and more often.
I as reptile lover since childhood had to do something.
So I published my Reptile Rescue Phangan Facebook page, and started to post the link and campaign posts against killing reptiles in our local island community pages.
It didn’t take long till my service got kinda popular on the island.
Especially after a succeeded rescue mission of our island star python Monty, who got almost beaten to death by humans, and who I’ve treated and nursed back to health in collaboration with my partner and supporter PACS, the Phangan Animal Care clinic for wildlife and stray animals.
I guess you all got my intention, why I founded Reptile Rescue Phangan, and why I’m writing this blog. Exactly! Education and awareness are the magic words. I just try to still the old fear towards our mysterious intruders, by showing people the true face of Cobra & Co..
Now after I got attention and support of many expats, and some English speaking Thai locals on our island, the next step will be, to convince non English speaking locals, that they don’t need to fear snakes. Of course it will be difficult to convince people, to stop eating snakes. Same as it’s difficult, to convince them to stop other kind of animals. I’m not vegetarian or vegan ether. But if I can convince people, that snakes don’t want to attack or hurt us, I believe we will have less encounters, where snakes get unnecessary killed.
My Thai language skills are still on a level of a young children, but I can make myself understand. And while I chat and kid around with our locals, they get more and more curious, and try even to understand my passion for these animals, and my intention to protect both. Humans and snakes.
My experience so far:
Most people are surprised, that Cobras live undiscovered in our yard, without causing harm to our kids. We, my girlfriend and me, and our neighbors have one incautious cobra in our yard. Our dogs, and our neighbors were very scared first. Now after first closer contact, and some educational words to our neighbors, they’re all not worried anymore. Our dogs don’t even bark anymore, when our Cobra appears. In the night we just need to use flashlights. But I would anyway recommend to everyone, to always use light torches also for other venomous animals, like scorpions or centipedes. By the way… I rather step on a Cobra, than on a centipede. Why is that? The clip “Harmless Cobra Strike” of Rom Whitaker in my video collection should explain it very well. Since many people here on the island have seen Rom’s documentary, they’re even really cool with Cobras now. It gives me even more motivation, to work on this project.
I wished I would be able to translate my pages into Thai. But it has to wait a bit. Maybe I’ll have to give this job to our island translator at Phangan Translation, who already translated some campaign flyers for me. But it has to wait, until I’ve some money left again. In the meanwhile I have to spend it for my current patients.
In the moment I’m working on another interesting project with two friends and herpetologists of the Cobra research group in the north east of Thailand, and the director of our national park, which could bring a big game change regarding reptile or even wildlife research, education and conservation on Phangan.
We all cross the fingers, that it can launch soon. But I don’t want to reveal too much. I’ll let you know more, as soon everything is officially signed and approved. But I can promise you… It will be very exciting, and reveal a lot more about the life of our mysterious hooded critters! And also about, how we can live with them in harmony….
Construction Boom and Land Clearing
In the last weeks I got many calls for relocation of Monocled Cobras, Reticulated Pythons and now even Kings Cobras.
A snapshot of one of the local rescuers. A 3m and 7kg King Cobra on a farm near the Than Nam Rak stream at the forest park. I had to release it very near by the site. Actually the perfect breeding area for our highness.
We have still plenty of water around this year. So I guess the dry season can’t be the reason for their appearance. I would rather bet on the construction boom on our island. They clear land for new roads, villas, plantations and resorts. Humans like wildlife, as long they can watch it in safe distance on the television. But in the own yard? They cut the high weeds around the houses, and in plantations, to avoid encounters with snakes or other critters. The evergreen forests around the mountain creeks are shrinking day by day, which is also a reason, why the creeks dry out more quickly. Even the juicy green wetlands have to give way for more building plots now. And the result: Aquatic and half aquatic wildlife has to give way, or gets even extinguished. And our smaller hooded friends and other snakes or monitor lizards, who feed on them, don’t know where else to go. They try to find shelter and new food sources in or around our homes. And King Cobras have to follow, because they prey on them.