In 2017, we welcomed a new member to our Houston Zoo family – Murthy Kantimahanti. Murthy is incredibly excited to join our community, and knowing that you are supporting his work with king cobras in the wild through the purchase of your admission ticket here at the Zoo means the world to him. He is a huge fan of the Houston Zoo, and as fans of his, we are thrilled to announce that Murthy has been nominated for the prestigious “Future for Nature” wildlife conservation award for his work to protect the Eastern Ghats king cobra in India!
Future for Nature works to support young conservationists that are passionate and committed to protecting animal and plant species in the wild. These individuals become leaders that inspire and mobilize communities, organizations, governments, investors and the public at large to take action to save wildlife. The Future for Nature award not only provides financial assistance to these young conservation leaders, but also creates a network of learning support and mentoring for recipients. Murthy is among the 10 conservationists who have been shortlisted for the award.
Murthy works in the Eastern Ghats, located in Southern India, to improve relationships between humans and snakes, and build local community support for snake conservation. Fear and lack of knowledge about snakes has led to a rise in the killing of many snake species, including the king cobra. Murthy and his team are working to transform the fear of snakes into a respect and appreciation for the important role that snakes play in the ecosystem. Snakes are an important species to control rodent populations that spread deadly diseases.
With the support of the Houston Zoo and you, the Eastern Ghats Wildlife Society is able to give school presentations, awareness talks at universities in towns and community centers in rural areas with human-snake conflict. Through this work, communities will learn how to identify venomous vs. non-venomous snakes, as well as learn valuable snake bite and first aid skills. Should Murthy receive the Future for Nature award, funds will go towards continuing these efforts as well as establishing the first ever snake education center in the Eastern Ghats.
In addition to supporting Murthy and his team, the Houston Zoo is also involved in work protecting snakes here in Texas! Every spring, the herpetology department hosts a local snake SOS event. At the event, zoo guests have the opportunity to come face-to-face with some of our native snake species, and learn more about what to do should you encounter one in the wild. The team also travels to participate in the Lone Star Rattlesnake Day event hosted by Dallas Zoo in order to spread the word about how awesome our local snakes are, and the important role that they play in the ecosystem.
Murthy will be traveling to Houston at the end of this week to visit the Houston Zoo, meet our staff, and participate in training sessions! Learn more about this project and keep up with Murthy and is team by following Eastern Ghats Wildlife Society on Facebook!