For wildlife photographers Naresh and Rajesh Bedi, it was a dream come true and a first in their 50-year career

King cobras are generally known to devour other snakes and rodents but for the first time, wildlife photographer brothers Naresh and Rajesh Bedi have filmed and taken pictures of a king cobra devouring a monitor lizard.

Speaking to The Hindu, Rajesh, who took all the pictures barring one which was taken by his son Yogesh, said: “Watching and documenting a king cobra catching and swallowing a monitor lizard was a dream come true for us; it was the first such instance in our 50-year career.”

When Rajesh and elder brother Naresh landed at the Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand on June 5, they were greeted with incessant rain. “On the first day, we witnessed the first monsoon showers. Next day, it again rained heavily. But the rain failed to dampen our spirits as we were determined to find a king cobra rummaging in the wild.”

The brothers initially observed that other snakes were coming out after the first monsoon showers. .

‘Long wait’

“Some visitors were curious to spot the tiger but for us it was only the king cobra, which is the world’s longest venomous snake. Since childhood we have been travelling to Corbett but have never once managed to spot one. During those days, the locals believed that king cobras did not thrive there,” said Naresh.

On June 7, they travelled into the densely forested area where a king cobra was spotted earlier. They waited with bated breath to click the creature. It did make an appearance and soon found a monitor lizard moving across a road.

“This king cobra was nearly 12 feet long. Its intelligence could be gauged from the fact that it first scanned the entire area before doing chemical analysis through its forked tongue. It followed the scent of its prey like a keen hunter. As soon as a king cobra bites its prey, the poison starts affecting the nervous system and the prey gets a cardiac arrest. In this case, the venomous monitor lizard did not get poisoned as it continued resisting the hunter,” said Naresh.

The king cobra first attacked the monitor lizard on the hip region. It then started swallowing the lizard head-first, he added.

Narrating a story about hunter-turned-conservationist Jim Corbett, Naresh said the former had killed quite a few man-eating tigers and leopards which were preying on people in the villages of Garhwal and Kumaon but had never once killed a king cobra. “Corbett did not kill them because these creatures were not harming humans.”

According to the honorary warden of Corbett, Brijendra Singh, the series of pictures taken by the Bedi brothers fall in the rarest of rare category.