My tryst with King cobras began whilst hanging out with Rom Whitaker the renowned snake guru / pambu dorai from India. It was the start of his long-term work on King Cobras in the Western Ghats. I had never seen a king cobra even after a decade of hiking and camping in various parts of the Western Ghats. This was an opportunity for me to get close and experience these animals first-hand safely beside an experienced person.
We met in the field somewhere close to Sakleshpur in an estate known as KaaduMane. He was there with a team from Icon Films led by Harry Marshall. It was a shoot for BBC Natural World titled “King Cobra and I.” The story was about Rom’s personal saga with the world’s largest venomous snake.
My introduction was nothing short of awe-inspiring!
A few years later Rom called asking if I’d be interested in taking on a full one-hour documentary about king cobras for National Geographic. He had just started the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station and was about to embark on the first-ever attempt to radio-tag King Cobras in order to learn more about what they do, how far they go and their interactions in the wild. My small crew and I set up camp in Agumbe for nearly six months. In that fairly short period of time we were able to film for the first time in the wild – a pair of courting king cobras, mating, male combat and finally cannibalism. This was the first documentary about these snakes ever made that all this was shot in the wild.
SECRETS OF THE KING COBRA is an unprecedented journey into the natural history of the wild King Cobra-following them into their world-revealing what they do, where they go, and who they interact with-when we are not around. And surprisingly, the people of India are very much a part of the story. Early evidence suggests that kings might be more intertwined with humans than previously thought., making this project more important than ever.1 It’s a close and personal look into the secret life of the King-and the best chance we have of ensuring the survival of this legendary snake.