P. Gowri Shankar

Founder Director | Kalinga Centre for Rainforest Ecology


Gowri Shankar is based in Agumbe and focuses primarily on studying and conserving King Cobras.

He started handling reptiles at the age of thirteen and has not looked back since. His stints as an animal inspector (at KARUNA, formerly BSPCA, Bangalore Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), an education officer (at the Center for Herpetology, Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, Mamalapuram Chennai), and a Conservation Officer at the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station (ARRS), molded him well for his current occupation as a conservationist.

In the five years he’s has been living in the rainforest environment of Agumbe, he has observed and documented the nesting, male combat, courtship, mating and cannibalistic behaviors of King Cobras in the wild. He was also instrumental in the pioneer efforts of ARRS in conducting radio telemetry study on King Cobras.

Gowri Shankar has worked for several wildlife documentaries behind the camera and has been featured alongside Romulus Whitaker,  known as the snake man of India, in two wildlife documentaries, The King and I on the BBC and Secrets of the King Cobra on the National Geographic Channel. He has also appeared in the following documentaries: Asia’s Deadliest Snake, One Million Snake Bites, and Wildest India, by Nat Geo Wild, BBC and Discovery Channel, respectively.

Apart from rescuing over a hundred King Cobras from distress situations, he has collected vital scientific data which has led to new insights into the life of a King Cobra. He has many publications to his credit on the subject of King Cobras. He recently published six scientific papers in a special issue on King Cobras in one of the world’s leading journals on reptiles, The Hamadryad. He has also shared his considerable herp and King Cobra expertise as a consultant with Bannerughatta National Park in Bangalore, Shri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens (Mysore Zoo) in Mysore, Mahatma Gandhi Zoo in Sholapur, Tyavarekoppa Tiger-Lion Safari in Shivamoga and The Pilikula Biological Park, Mangalore.

Gowri Shankar’s interests lie in studying the ecology, breeding biology, and conservation biology of King Cobras, and finds it very important and satisfying to share his passion and knowledge through hands-on education programs, particularly with the younger generation.

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