Trek Polamaa 2018, Feb 17-18, Speaker Profiles: Cobra King, Gowri Shankar

Topic: Cobra King

Gowri Shankar will share his experiences about the King cobras and put on display the most recent documentary about them. The documentary was predominantly filmed in and around Agumbe, also known as the homeland of king cobras. It showcases the life of king cobras, their breeding biology, and reverence for these snakes by people of Malnad and the need for its conservation.

King cobras are the longest venomous snakes in the world. These snakes are cannibalistic which means they eat their own kind. A very interesting sequence captured in the film is that of male combat. Mostly mistaken for mating, male combat is actually a tussle between two males for a female; while mating is a very silent affair.

King cobras are the only snakes known to build a nest to lay their eggs. The female king cobra leaves the nest just before the hatchlings emerge.  King cobras are apex predators among snakes. Just as in tigers, protecting king cobras means protecting all other snakes and hence the forests.

Gowri Shankar, featured in the documentary has been studying king cobras for close to two decades and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. on it. The cinematography is by Sandesh Kadur from Felis Creations, a renowned award-winning wildlife filmmaker from Karnataka.

About Speaker:


Gowri Shankar is a wildlife biologist working on king cobras close to two decades. He is currently enrolled as a Ph.D. candidate at North Orissa University, Odisha, India and an exchange student at Uppsala University, Sweden. His interest lay in Evolutionary Biology and is studying phylogeography of king cobras across the Indian Subcontinent. He has authored and co-authored 11 scientific papers on king cobras (6 were part of a special issue) for the ‘Hamadryad’, a leading herpetological journal. Apart from this, he has more than 10 scientific papers on other herpetological topics and book reviews to his credit.

He has previously worked at premier organizations like the Centre for Herpetology, Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and also helped set up the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station, Agumbe, Karnataka.  As a field biologist, he has been studying the natural history of king cobras for over a decade at Agumbe. As part of this study, he has rescued and relocated over 300 king cobras from distress situations and monitored over 30 king cobra nests. He was instrumental in initiating the pioneering radio telemetry study on king cobras and was able to discover the secret life of king cobras.  He has been featured in several wildlife documentaries like the ‘King Cobra and I’, ‘Secrets of the King Cobra ‘, ‘One million snake bites’, ‘Asia’s deadliest snakes’, ‘Wildest India’,’Wild India’, ‘Mysteries of Wild India(in production)’ and ‘Cobra King’ by channels like the BBC, Discovery, NatGeo Wild, Animal Planet, Smithsonian and the National Geographic Channel and also served as a consultant to these channels.

He believes education is the cornerstone of conservation hence has taken this belief a step further by initiating specialized workshops and camps to educate people. One such workshop is the Scientific Training on Reptile Management (STORM) a workshop that introduces people to the life of reptiles and deals with ethical and right methods of rescue and relocation of snakes. Apart from this he setup Kalinga Centre for Rainforest Ecology(KCRE), a campsite at Agumbe where people get an opportunity to learn about forests and wilderness in the most responsible way. He is also the co-founder of Kalinga Foundation, an NGO focusing on ecological research and conservation to impact a positive change for the environment.  Kalinga Foundation is a research NGO focusing on ecological research to impact a positive change for conservation.

Chennai Trekking Club Turns 10 this February and If there is one event that brings all the nature-lovers under one roof, it is “Trek Polama”, the annual trekking symposium organized by the Chennai Trekking Club. Trek Polama is a two-day event that comprises talks, workshops, live demos by renowned speakers, in addition to a range of indoor and outdoor activities which happens on Feb 17-18, 2018. Don’t miss out the talk that will change your way of living !! What are you waiting for?

Register here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

4 × two =