18 June 2014
Attack of the wilderness: carnivorous reptiles – part 3 of 3
I was resting with my arms on the wooden railing, recovering a little from previous scares and also happy I had been able to capture some nice shots of monkeys and orangutans despite my initial annoyance at my lens being covered with condensation. And because of orangutans are just so cute, I’m adding some more shots of them in this current album, so there.
I closed my eyes to pay attention to the sounds of the jungle, which seemed quiet again – breathing slowly, my sense of hearing heightened. A bird was chirping in the distance, leaves were rustling in the wind, the sound of cracked twigs could also be faintly heard, as well as a hissing sound…
Hissing?! I abruptly opened my eyes, suddenly woken up from my daydreaming: a cobra was sitting on the intermediate level of the wooden railing I was leaning on. It had spread its neck ribs to form that widened hood typical of threatening cobras about to attack. Yikes! I leapt backwards, scared by this cobra which thankfully wasn’t very big (I now affectionately call it “my baby cobra”... from the safety and comfort of my swivel chair in my home office!).
Other guinea pigs (read: careless tourists) then approached it as I was taking photos from a distance with my telephoto lens. I only read afterwards that cobras display their threatening hood when they are disturbed – otherwise they’re really just cute pets ;-). How could I have known that this little fellow was using precisely the same railing as I was resting my arms on, seriously…
Did you know that cobras can live up to 20 years? And despite only being found from Africa through southern Asia, the name “cobra” comes from Portuguese, dating back all the way from the times – around the fifteenth century – when Portuguese explorers traveled around the world. The full name is actually cobra de capello which literally means grass snake (“cobra”) with a hood (“capello”). And of course the nasty thing about them is their venom which can kill a man in two to ten hours, the neurotoxin it contains ending up blocking respiratory muscles (among others)… Yummy.
So here we are at the end of my tale on attacks from the wilderness. I’ll finish with an Egyptian proverb which I’ll try to remember next time I think I’m safe: “Because we focused on the snake, we missed the scorpion”. I’ve been warned.