The Red Coral Khukri snake sighted at the Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, in Kheri, Lakhimpur kheri ( 124 Km from Lucknow), Uttar Pradesh, India (Photo By Hindustan Times)
Photographed out of curiosity for its unusual colour, a snake later turned out to be a rare Indian species sighted only twice earlier ever since it was first discovered in Kheri forests nearly eight decades ago.
Fazlurrahman, a conservationist and member of an NGO named Katarniaghat Foundation, was roaming at the Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS) during night on July 8 last when he chanced to see a snake he had never sighted elsewhere.
“It was of orange colour and nearly one meter long snake that attracted my attention,” Rahman said.
“I did not have the slightest idea that I was going to photograph a snake which was first discovered only in Kheri forests in 1936 and it had been named by its discoverer after its Kheri-specific location.”
“I just picked up my infra-red night-vision enabled camera and clicked as the reptile was not in a mood to give me another chance,” he added.
As per the records, it is one of the rarest species of Indian snakes.
After its discovery, it was once seen in Mahendranagar, Nepal and then in West Bengal.
The records revealed that this snake, which is commonly known as Red Coral Khukri was first discovered in 1936 in the North Kheri division, eastern circle of Kheri district in the then United Province by the two Zoological Survey of India scientists MN Acharji and HC Ray, who had later published their report about the rare Indian reptile.
Dr Abhijit Das, a reputed herpetologist and head of reptile division in Assam-based non-government organisation ‘Aaranyak’, described the discovery as most exciting.
Dr Das, when contacted over the phone, said, “This snake is mostly found in the Terai region of Kheri and Nepal.” Describing the reptile, he added that the snake is non-venomous.
“This nocturnal reptile, which feeds on small mammals and eggs, has Kukhri (a Nepali knife)-shaped teeth, which help it break the egg-shells,” he further said.
Das, who recently presented his research paper on reptiles and amphibians of KWS in the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (DTR), lauded the rich flora and fauna of Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS).
Elated at the discovery, field director, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Shailesh Prasad said, “The discovery is very encouraging.” “In fact, the Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary is one of those sanctuaries where human interference is minimum. It gives the indigenous species a natural environment to flourish,” he added.