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Posted by Joe Adnan on June 10, 2002 at 03:49:03:
I'm not a herpetologist, not even a reptile enthusiast, just a moutain biker and outdoorsperson living in Malaysia. I just thought that I'd share an encounter I had with a King Cobra (Ophiophagus Hannah). Last Saturday (1 June 2002) I was cycling in the Gombak forest reserve when I noticed movement amongst the leaf-litter not more than 2 feet from my front wheel. "A monitor lizard", I thought when I saw its head. "But what a long neck you have, Mr Varanus", I mused. Fractions of a second later, I realised that it was a snake, a large snake. My fingers involuntary grabbed the brakes, and I emitted a sound not unlike that of a startled donkey. (“Eeee-argh!”) The snake was a uniform olive brown-green, with large scales. It was about 5 inches in diameter at its widest point (about 18-24 inches behind the head). From the leafy embankment, the snake slid down onto the trail and contemplated my bicycle and its quaking owner for what seemed like an eternity. It then slithered across the trail and down the opposite embankment. I estimated its length to be about 8 feet, but it could have been a couple of feet longer. The location of the sighting was about 5 kilometres into the Gombak forest reserve, about 200 metres from a large stream in a dense and well-covered jungle, close to a bamboo forest. The trail, though navigable by 4wd vehicle, had not been passed in several weeks, judging from the deadfalls across the trail that I had to haul my bicycle over.
It took several minutes before my heart rate returned from the stratosphere. Needless to say, every branch and root thereafter presented itself as a snake to my imagination!
But despite the patent danger posed by the close encounter, I could not help but marvel at its majesty. Among the flurry of obvious emotions in the washing machine that was my mind — terror and shock — were thoughts less usually associated with situations of danger: wonderment, awe and the feeling that I was pretty small in the order of things in nature. The snake was truly a sight to behold, though if you had asked me at the time, I might have preferred to behold this particular sight from behind a perspex enclosure at the zoo. Nevertheless, I consider myself truly lucky to have seen a King Cobra in the wild, and perhaps luckier still not to have raised its ire, despite the nose-to-wheel proximity of the encounter.