DEHRADUN: An extremely rare Albino spectacled cobra (Naja naja) has been sighted first time in Uttarakhand. Four of these serpents were sighted in Haldwani of Nainital district.
Albino cobras are among the10 rarest albino animals in the world, said experts and officials who spotted the reptile.
PM Dhakate, chief conservator of forests, Uttarakhand and one of the team members which discovered the animal in Uttarakhand said, "All our efforts are to conserve the flora and fauna across the state. We are delighted to have such gifts bestowed by nature."
A Spectacled Cobra was last found in India from Sehore district in Madhya Pradesh in the year 2018. However, the data of albinism in animals, especially snakes, are scarce.
The paper which was filed in July and accepted in October 2020 said that albinism is a genetically inherited condition and its results either in partial or complete loss of colouration from the skin, hair, scales, feathers or eyes and scales as in fishes and reptiles and that the true albinos are generally recognized by their pinkish-yellowish body colour and reddish eyes in life.
Vipul Maurya, the corresponding author of the paper pertaining to the finding of the specimen said, "Uttarakhand has a variety of fauna when it comes to snakes and other reptiles. A lot is yet to be done in the field in terms of research. The specimen is highly rare and it is good that now we know that our state has such a rare occurrence."
In a first, Uttarakhand will be mapping human-snake conflict hotspots in Kumaon region of the state. The state forest department will conduct a three-year-long project to learn more about the different types of snakes found in the region.
The department aims to train 750 locals from 250 villages, considered high-risk from the human-snake conflict point of view, under the project named 'Community-based human-snake conflict mitigation in Kumaon Himalayas of Uttarakhand, India'.
As part of the project, the forest department will train three people from each high-risk village in snake rescue and rehabilitation process.
Snake sightings increase in the state with the onset of monsoon. Every few days, snakes are sighted in and around residential areas in different parts of the state.
In the first week of September, forest department officials rescued 12 snakes, including six cobras, from Haldwani area of Nainital district.
A copper-headed trinket snake, Forsten’s cat snake, Russell’s viper, two rat snakes and a python were also among those rescued.
In the last week of August, state forest department officials rescued a 15.4 feet long king cobra from Jamunwala area in Dehradun, claiming it to be the largest King cobra they had ever rescued in the district so far.