World's largest spitting cobra discovered in East Africa13/07/2007 00:00:00
December 2007. A new giant species of spitting cobra, about 2.6 metres long and with enough venom to kill up to 20 people in one bite, has been discovered in Kenya.
This Snake is huge for a cobra in general but it is absolutely massive compared to the other spitting cobras. The newly discovered snake was actually first recorded by James Ashe, founder of the Bio-Ken Snake Farm in Kenya, in the 1960’s and was just over 9ft in length.
To get an idea of their size, specimens have been seen eating young rabbits, 5 feet long puff adders and even a monitor lizard. While not unusual for some larger pythons, these are very large prey items for spitting cobras.
The discovery of the Large Brown Spitting Cobra Naja Ashei is of great conservation significance. Although it is not thought that their numbers in the wild are under any great threat at the moment, the development of areas in their range of distribution, mainly the coastal areas, will obviously have a negative impact on their numbers. A large venomous snake is very often killed on site with no regard to their position in the food chain and other ecological issues. It is hoped that the publicity of this new find can be directed will reach the public in such a way that the conservation of this and other snake species can have a positive impact. Education is the key to conservation and it starts at any point that your audience has interest in the subject you are addressing.
More Research Required
More research work needs to be done on their venom and its implication to snakebite treatment and Antivenom manufacture. The Bio-Ken fam have the knowledge and experience behind them to do this but lack the financial support required. If there is anyone who would like to help, please go to the Bio Ken website.
New Species Classicifation
Dr Wuster, a renowned snake expert from the a lecturer at the University of Bangor in Wales, has taken about three years to prepare a paper and get it published. It has now finally been published and can be viewed by clicking here.
James Ashe died in 2004 and in memory of him it was agreed that the snake should be named after him. It was thus named Ashe’s Spitting Cobra Naja Ashei which is a great honour for him. However many people still call it by the common name that he used - the Large Brown Spitting Cobra.