Romulus Whitaker was only four years old when he caught his first snake in the country estate that he shared with his mother and sister in northern New York State. It was the beginning of a fascination with reptiles and a journey to conserve nature. Although born in the United States in 1943, Rom Whitaker grew up in India where he nurtured his passion for reptiles exploring the wild as a student in a boarding school up in the mountains in south India. Dr. Whitaker is one of India's leading herpetologists and conservationists. His efforts have helped to put numerous endangered wildlife on the conservation map. The world-renowned herpetologist and author is changing perceptions of reptiles through his innovative work while championing the cause for conservation of India’s rich biodiversity. (He’s 69) In an exclusive interview Romulus Whitaker shares some of his thoughts and interesting experience through the course of his work.
1. What is it about reptiles that got you fascinated about them? My love affair with reptiles began before my 'age of reason', in fact I was catching and keeping snakes at the tender age of 5 years at Hoosick, NY I found my first snake, a Dekay's snake and I was hooked. I Kept a terrarium full of local snakes and when I was seven I moved to India, the land of snakes. Over the years my interest broadened to all herps.
2. Were your parents or friends influential in your decision to go into herpetology as a profession? My mother in particular was very supportive of my 'unusual' interest and bought me books by Pope, Ditmars etc.
3. Where is your favorite herping spot in the world?
I guess my best place in Agumbe, Karnataka State, near the west coast of India, where we have one of our research stations.
4. What herp in the wild still gives you chills and sends your excitement levels through the roof? What herp is at the top of your list to find in the wild? I guess the king cobra tops the list but I get great...
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