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Naja kaouthia

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA ELAPIDAE

Scientific Name: Naja kaouthia
Species Authority: Lesson, 1831
Common Name(s):
English Monocled Cobra
French Monocellate Cibra
Synonym(s):
Naja naja subspecies kaouthia Lesson, 1831
Taxonomic Notes: This species was formerly treated as a subspecies of Naja naja (see Wüster 1996 for nomenclatural review).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2011-08-31
Assessor(s): Stuart, B. & Wogan, G.
Reviewer(s): Bowles, P. & Cox, N.A.
Contributor(s): Zug, G., De Silva, R., Milligan, HT, Wearn, O.R., Wren, S., Zamin, T., Sears, J., Wilson, P., Lewis, S., Lintott, P. & Powney, G.
Justification:
Naja kaouthia has been assessed as Least Concern owing to its large distribution, tolerance of a broad range of modified habitats, and its reported abundance. No major threats have been reported although it is extensively used for food, snake wine, skin trade and medicinal purposes, and has undergone at least localized population declines in the eastern part of its range. For this reason it is listed in appendix II of CITES. However, it is not known whether it is undergoing a significant population decline and more research is needed to establish whether this species might warrant reassessment.
History:
2010 Least Concern

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species occurs from northeastern India, Bangladesh and Bhutan across southern China, southward to northern Peninsular Malaysia (Wüster 1996). It is absent from the central dry zone of Myanmar. Its presence in northern Lao PDR has not been confirmed although it has been recorded from the southern part of the country. It is absent from North Viet Nam, where records attributed to this species likely reflect confusion with N. atra or N. siamensis.
Countries:
Native:
Bangladesh; Bhutan; Cambodia; China; India; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia); Myanmar; Nepal; Thailand; Viet Nam
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is common in most of its range. G. Zug (pers. comm.) states that it is widespread and common in Myanmar. It is also fairly common in Indochina. It is considered to have declined by over 30% over the preceding ten years in China as a result of overharvesting (Wang and Xie 2009), although China forms a small part of its range. It is explicitly included within the concept of Naja naja that the Viet Nam Red Data Book estimates has suffered a 50% population decline over the same period (Dang et al. 2007), but rates of decline specifically attributable to this species in Viet Nam are unknown. It is unclear whether this species is undergoing significant declines elsewhere within its range.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species can adapt to a range of habitats, including both natural and anthropogenically-modified environments. It prefers habitats associated with water, such as paddy fields, swamps, and mangroves, but can also be found in grasslands, shrublands, and forests. It also occurs in agricultural land and human settlements, including cities. It occurs up to 1,000 m elevation.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is harvested in Lao PDR, Viet Nam, Myanmar and China for both domestic use and export to supply demand for Chinese traditional medicine (Stuart 2004). It is also used in snake wine in Viet Nam (Somaweera and Somaweera 2010) and probably throughout its range. Harvesting is quite extensive in Indochina, where it is collected for food and skin as well as for medicinal purposes (Q.T. Nguyen pers. comm. August 2011). CITES data indicate that between 2000 and 2009 live exports and medicinal parts were predominantly taken from captive-bred or, in smaller numbers, farmed animals, while skins were almost exclusively from wild specimens, with the export of 6,882 skins reported from Thailand over this period (M. Auliya pers. comm. December 2011). It is of some interest in the international pet trade (M. Auliya pers. comm. December 2011).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species is probably threatened in China, Myanmar and much of Indochina, as a result of heavy exploitation for use in traditional medicine, including snake wine in Viet Nam, and for skins and food. CITES data indicates, however, that it is unclear whether these pressures are sufficient to threaten the survival of subpopulations.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on CITES Appendix II. Its large geographic distribution is coincident with a number of protected areas. As part of the Naja naja complex (with N. naja, N. atra and N. siamensis), this species is protected in Vietnam (where members of the complex are listed as nationally Endangered - Dang et al. 2007) by government decree, limiting commercial exploitation. The China Species Red List lists this snake as nationally Vulnerable (Wang and Xie 2009). Due to its extensive use more research on how harvesting is impacting the population in major areas of its range is recommended.

Citation: Stuart, B. & Wogan, G. 2012. Naja kaouthia. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 November 2014.
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