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World's largest spitting cobra species found in Kenya

A new species of giant spitting cobra, measuring nearly nine feet and possessing enough venom to kill at least 15 people, has been discovered in Kenya, a conservation group said on Friday.

WildlifeDirect said the cobras were the world's largest and had been identified as unique. The species has been named Naja Ashei after James Ashe, who founded Bio-Ken snake farm on Kenya's tropical coast where the gigantic serpents are found.

"A new species of giant spitting cobra is exciting and reinforces the obvious -- that there have to be many other unreported species but hundreds are being lost as their habitats disappear under the continued mismanagement of our planet," said the group's chairman, Kenyan environmentalist Richard Leakey.

Ashe, now deceased, was the first to catch a larger-than-normal spitting cobra in the 1960s and suggest it belonged to a different species.

Bio-Ken director Royjan Taylor said the recognition of the new species was an opportunity to raise awareness about snake conservation as well as find remedies for the powerful bite.

"Naja Ashei is responsible for a very serious snake bite," he told Reuters by telephone from the farm. "People don't care about saving snakes. They talk of saving dolphins or cats, but never snakes!"

The conservationists' excitement has drawn scientific endorsement from a British-based biologist.

Research published by Wolfgang Wuster, of the University of Wales, said a field visit confirmed the Naja Ashei is a new species. "The new species is diagnosable from all other African spitting cobras by the possession of a unique DNA," he wrote in a review in July.

Source of Picture:-National Geographic


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