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Varad Giri

Varad Giri

Researcher par excellence, Varad Giri’s meticulous work has been instrumental in shaping conservation strategies for endemic amphibians and reptiles of the Western Ghats. Photo Courtesy: Varad Giri.

Wildlife Service Award

Varad Giri
Researcher par excellence, Herpetologist, Conservationist

Dr. Varad Giri is pushing the boundaries of science, and filling the cavernous gaps in our knowledge of India’s ‘less charismatic’ species. This enables us to formulate effective conservation strategies. Highly skilled and regarded, he prefers to work in the background and is little known to the ‘public’ though people involved with the study and conservation of amphibians and reptiles are in awe of his achievements and for them he is already something of a celebrity. In 2011, the world-famous German taxonomists Dr. Gernot Vogel and Dr. Johan Van Rooijen even named a newly-discovered snake species after him Dendrepahis girii. And how well-deserved that recognition is… after two decades of studying and conserving the endemic amphibians and reptiles in the magical Western Ghats.

Currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Giri earlier worked for over a decade with the iconic Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), starting off as a Research Assistant and going on to become the Curator and Deputy Director of the Collections Department. All through his life he has endured gruelling field conditions, meticulously surveying remote areas to understand the distribution and classification of little-known species we may be totally unaware of, which are critical to the ecological health of the Indian subcontinent. Expectedly, in the process he has discovered several new species, including snakes, geckos, frogs and caecilians, and his works have been published in innumerable national and international journals of repute. Amongst his laundry list of achievements, the rediscovery of the Jeypore Indian gecko Geckoella jeyporensis after 135 years, the description of 13 new species of frogs of the genus Nyctibatrachus, and the first report of a live-bearing amphibian from Asia, stands out.

Varad’s incredible mind, his ability to infect others with enthusiasm and his willingness to share his expertise, is equipping young researchers with the skills they need to carry forward his work legacy. His humble demeanour merely underscores his vast contribution to conservation in India.

And for this, we honour him.

First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXV No. 12, December 2015.


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