Conservation by Education

You must unlearn what you have learned!!!

Yeah! You’ve got me there. I was also a big Star Wars fan. The point is, that most of us humans got the wrong education over the past generations. There are old books just like the bible, who published wrong believes of people just same as you and I. And certainly humans didn’t know much about reptiles many hundred if not thousands of years ago. Just in the last 30 years people started to do a lot of research, and tried to understand their habits. In the end they found out…

If they would wear pants, they would’ve to change it all the time, because they’re so scared of us, they would frequently shit them.

So, the only logical way to convince humans of not killing reptiles can be education. We have to unlearn this nonsense of all these holy books, or our anxious parents and grand parents. And then we need to learn, who they are, and what they want from us. How to live peacefully together. Snakes… yes, even the venomous ones… are not our enemies. They’re very important for the nature, and therefore our survival.

 

What are apex predators? And what’s their purpose?

Apex predators serve to keep numbers of other predators or herbivores in check. By weeding out the slow, weak, and dying animals, they increase the health of the population as a whole. However, they actually do much more than that. Left to their own devices, a herd of herbivores, like a deer, will stay in one place, eating everything down to the ground before they move on. However, a healthy predator population (such as our indigenous monitor lizards) will keep a herd (or a population) moving around, looking for cover, and generally trying not to get eaten. This improves the health of the ecosystem as a whole. It leaves smaller plants and grasses for smaller herbivores, prevents erosion, and allows more saplings to mature. This reduces run-off into rivers and streams which in turn reduces flood damage. All of these things are linked to the health and movement of the large prey species.

Phangan has 3 natural terrestrial apex predators. The Asian Water Monitor (Varanus Salvator), the Reticulated Python (Python/Broghammerus Reticulatus) and our majesty (Ophiophagus Hannah)= Snake Eater. Most people know the Snake Eater under the name King Cobra, which is actually not a true Cobra (Naja).

They are actually all worldwide protected wildlife animals. This also applies for Thailand by the way. While we can still often find water monitor lizards in creeks, back water ponds or brackish river mouths at the coast, and pythons even almost everywhere even close to humans. The King already experiences an enormous decline by land loss, deforestation, and human killings for their bush meat. Or just because of superstitious fear. I’ve heard stories, that our locals believe, once a King Cobra visits our yard and shows it’s hood, they will always come back to kill us. Of course this is hokey pokey. King Cobras are smart and shy. Once they got violently expelled from their territory, they’ll try to avoid the same place. In general they’ll try to avoid any contact with us. The only exception would be, if a female accidently made her nest in our backyard. She would most likely come back to check on her eggs, and would even attack us in order to defend her offspring again. She is the only elapid snake, who stays and watches her clutch of eggs till they hatch.

vlcsnap-00299

Since the King looses huge parts of his realm, he doesn’t have enough space to breed anymore. As soon he shows up close to our villages, humans scream alarm and kill it. In the best scenario they call the local common rescue service, who usually rescues people involved in car or motorbike accidents. But they’re not skilled in catching snakes gently. They usually use nooses, and cause them inner injuries at their neck. If available, it’s better to call a specialist of your local snake relocation service.