Sunday, June 11, 2017

10 Questions w/h The Eastern Herpetologist, Dr Kalu Ram Rai, Professor, Mechi Multiple Campus, Jhapa, Nepal

Dr Kalu Ram Rai
Prof Dr Kalu Ram Rai from Mechi Multiple Campus, Jhapa, is a name you’d come across when things are concerned about herpetology of Nepal. With nearly three decade long experience in the study of amphibians and reptiles of Nepal, especially in the eastern part of the country, Prof Dr. Rai has made remarkable discovery of three frogs, one caecilian, one turtle and two reptiles new for Nepal. He is the author of ‘Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Nepal’ published in 2013, handful of children’s book on herpetology of Nepal and an honorary member of the non-profits, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Society of Nepal.

I never had the privilege to meet Dr Rai in person but read about his contribution to the herpetology across the country. Let’s hear straightly from him what he plans forth!

Q1. Namaste Dr Rai! What are you up to these days? Any specific research plans in near future?

Namaste, Thank you very much for your nice question! These days I am busy in my own study, reading and writing. In addition, I am looking after the Turtle Rescue and Conservation Centre which is running in the collaboration of ARCO-Nepal and SUMMEF-Nepal  at Budhoholi within the premises of Sukani Martyr’s Memorial Park, at Salbari, Shanischare (Jhapa).   

Q2. What groups of animal excites you the most?

Amphibians and Testudines

Q3. Whom should we call a Herpetologist - one who studies herps or someone who handles it or even someone who breeds it for commercial purpose?

I prefer to call a Herpetologist who does study, research and publish scientific paper on it with some new findings. It should be more academically professional rather than that of commercial purposes.   
Q4. How and when did the love for herpetology evolve in you?

Sorry, I didn’t understand this question clearly!

Q5. Herpetology in Nepal is the least preferred subject and less prioritized even from the academic sector when preliminary collections started very early, during Hodgson’s period (100 years before). What could have caused the delay?

Yes this is an interesting question in context to Nepal. our history of educational development is not long in our country specially, the science education in Nepal that started only 45 years back. So our society is still suffering from different superstition and false concepts. So, we have learnt to love beautiful animal such butterfly and birds, but not herpetofauna  (amphibians and reptiles). Because they may look ugly and disgusted. So, our traditional concepts are responsible to be a least choice subject even in our Universities.  

Q6. You’ve devoted your life as a herpetologist with a doctoral degree, travelling many remotest locations of Nepal. Tell me what places are best for herpetological studies?

Yes  I have completed herpetological research survey journey from east to far-west region of Nepal. I had surveyed the herpetofauna from the Himalayan region to the lowland Terai region. Among the surveyed Districts of Nepal, Ilam is an ideal place for complete herpetological study. Likely, SankhawaSabha District for highland, Dadeldhura District for midland and Bardiya district for lowland district are marked on my priority basis. 

Q7. What was the most significant moment of your career?

The PhD rewarding ceremony of TU convocation was my significant moment in my life.

Q8. Only 53 species of amphibians are documented in the literature. Does this reflect a truer picture of amphibians’ diversity when countries like Panama and Costa Rica, smaller than Nepal harbors hundreds of frogs? Also, isn’t it a high time that we should go for genetics rather than visual based morphological identification?

Yes, why not! If we could afford for such latest technology to identify genetically, it might be done. But so far I know, we could not conduct at microlevel right now. But let’s chap like you initiate it and make possible in your generation.

Q9. What fields of science need to be integrated so as to promote herpetology in Nepal?

Conservation Biology.

Q10.  What suggestion do you have for newbie in this field; pursuing career, research and conservation endeavor?

I would like to say one proverb-‘Where there is will, there is way!’ So if you are really interested in the field of herpetological study, you may have greater and greater opportunity in your life. But you mustn’t be afraid of any hardship and difficulty because you have to overcome so many obstacles during the fieldwork of amphibians and reptiles as they are living not in easily reachable places. Regarding it, you may a little bit feel about fieldwork if you read my book ‘Mero Anusandhan Yatra’. This book always encourage for not to be defeated but to be conqueror.

Dr. KR Rai Khambu
Bhadrapur-8, Campus mode, Jhapa (Nepal)

June 11, 2017  


  1. Thank you for bringing out this conversation. Words from a man of knowledge in Herpetology always attracts me and to most of the people who love creptic species. Editing seems to be necessary in few statements. Best wishes for your future

    1. Thank you sir for the suggestion. Dr Rai's autobiography seems promising. You should definitely purchase it. Also, I pasted out the replied without edits.. Yea needs revision 😀