A new species of snake has been added to the list of snakes in Bangladesh.
The orange-coloured snake — English name Coral Red Kukri Snake and scientific name Oligodon kheriensis — was first found in the country on 27 October, 2020 in a bamboo bush at Boda upazila in Panchagarh.
Later, experts studied it. A study on this snake was published in the scientific journal 'Journal of Asia Pacific Biodiversity' on Sunday (9 May). The study was conducted by Venom Research Centre, led by Assistant Professor Mohammad Abdul Wahed Chowdhury, Department of Zoology, University of Chittagong, and two assistant researchers from Bangladesh, Borhan Biswas Rumon and Ibrahim Al Haider.
According to the team of researchers, this snake has been named 'Kamalabati' in Bangla. The name was suggested by Borhan Biswas Rumon, a member of the research team. The snake belongs to the Colubridae family.
This snake was first traced in 1936 in Uttar Pradesh of India. On earth, it is found only in the remote areas of the Himalayas. MN Acharya and HC Roy, two biologists, then identified the snake as a new species, which was later confirmed by the famous biologist Malcolm Smith. Later, this new species of snake has been found in West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Uttarakhand in India, and in different parts of Nepal.
Ibrahim Al Haider, a member of the research team, said the snake had never been found in Bangladesh before. On 27 October, 2020, it was found while locals were digging the soil at a bamboo bush at Boda upazila of Panchagarh. Md Shahidul Islam, a local from the area, rescued the snake from being killed. He sent us a picture of the sake, and we arranged to collect the snake.
"We collected the data of the snake in a scientific way as it seemed to us that this snake is different from other snakes of the genus Oligodon found in Bangladesh. By analysing the data obtained, we became convinced that it is a new species of snake in Bangladesh. Since it was not found in Bangladesh before, it did not have a Bengali name. When our team member Borhan Biswas Rumon suggested the name of this snake as Kamalbati, we all agreed as the name matched the colour of its skin," he added.
Borhan Biswas Rumon, another member of the research team, told The Business Standard, "After the snake was found for the first time in October 2020, four more snakes of the same species have been found in Panchagarh district in last 6/7 months.
He said, "In our research, we have found that the snake is found only in places around the Himalayas. This snake is not found anywhere else in the world. After the existence of this snake has been found in Bangladesh, the number of snake species found in the country has risen to 102. According to the latest list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), there are 100 snake species in Bangladesh. However, that list is from 2015. Since then, we have found two more snake species including this newly discovered Kamalavati. So, there are now 102 species of snakes in Bangladesh. Of which, 16 species of snakes are marine."
The head of the research team, Assistant Professor of Zoology at Chittagong University, Mohammad Abdul Wayed Chowdhury, said the snake is very rare. It has been seen only 24 to 25 times in the world so far.
He said, "They have venom and their venomous teeth are as large as venomous snakes, but it is assumed that they only contain as much venom as they need to prey. However, research is underway to be sure about the venom. This snake prefers to live near water bodies, forested areas, rural bushes, and crops. They prefer the winter-prone areas on the southern side of the Himalayas."
"The change of climate might be a major issue behind the migration of this snake towards Bangladesh. However, the snake is endangered from the earth. India, Nepal and Bangladesh together have only 8% of the protected forest areas, the countries where the snakes have been found," the lead researcher said, adding, "Moreover, our research has shown that 1.4% of the forest area has been lost in the last 20 years in the area covered by the spread of this snake species. Moreover, this species of snake has died at different times during agricultural work, construction work, and even during road crossings."
"Therefore, considering all aspects, it is very important to take immediate steps, nationally and internationally, to save this snake from extinction," he urged.