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Cobra effect

The cobra effect occurs when an attempted solution to a problem actually makes it worse;[1][2] an instance of unintended consequence(s). The term is used to illustrate the causes of incorrect stimulation in economy and politics.[2] There is also a book with the same title by Horst Siebert (19382009), a German economist and professor.[2]

The term cobra effect stems from an anecdote set at the time of British rule of colonial India. The British government was concerned about the number of venomous cobra snakes in Delhi.[3] The government therefore offered a bounty for every dead cobra. Initially this was a successful strategy as large numbers of snakes were killed for the reward. Eventually, however, enterprising persons began to breed cobras for the income. When the government became aware of this, the reward program was scrapped, causing the cobra breeders to set the worthless snakes free. As a result, the wild cobra population further increased. The apparent solution for the problem made the situation even worse.[2][4] A similar incident occurred in Hanoi, Vietnam, under French colonial rule. The colonial regime created a bounty program that paid a reward for each rat killed.[3] To obtain the bounty, people would provide the severed rat tail. Colonial officials, however, began noticing rats in Hanoi with no tails. The Vietnamese rat catchers would capture rats, lop off their tails, and then release them back into the sewers so that they could procreate and produce more rats, thereby increasing the rat catchers' revenue Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales. Many species of snakes have skulls with many more joints than their lizard ancestors, enabling them to swallow prey much larger than their heads with their highly mobile jaws. To accommodate their narrow bodies, snakes' paired organs (such as kidneys) appear one in front of the other instead of side by side, and most have only one functional lung. Some species retain a pelvic girdle with a pair of vestigial claws on either side of the cloaca. Living snakes are found on every continent except Antarctica, in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and on most smaller land masses exceptions include some large islands, such as Ireland and New Zealand, and many small islands of the Atlantic and central Pacific.[1] More than 20 families are currently recognized, comprising about 500 genera and about 3,400 species.[2][3] They range in size from the tiny, 10 cm-long thread snake to the Reticulated python of up to 8.7 meters (29 ft) in length.[4][5] The fossil species Titanoboa cerrejonensis was 15 meters (49 ft) long. Snakes are thought to have evolved from either burrowing or aquatic lizards during the mid-Cretaceous period, and the earliest known fossils date to around 112 Ma ago. The diversity of modern snakes appeared during the Paleocene period (c 66 to 56 Ma ago). The oldest preserved descriptions of snakes can be found in the Brooklyn Papyrus. Most species are nonvenomous and those that have venom use it primarily to kill and subdue prey rather than for self-defense. Some possess venom potent enough to cause painful injury or death to humans. Nonvenomous snakes either swallow prey alive or kill by constriction.

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