Invited Speaker

Vishal Santra

Born in south Bengal, Vishal spent his childhood in the small north-eastern state of Manipur. It was there that his passion for reptiles formed when a slender copper-colored snake slithered across their front lawn. Returning to West Bengal for his higher studies, he met the famous snake charmers of the state. Classes were missed and calls made to his parents, but he learned a great deal about his reptilian neighbours in those years. Graduating with an honours degree in English literature, his habit of reading brought him into contact with articles and publications on snakes and their research. Realizing that herpetology was to be an integral part of his life, he was soon mentored by Gerard Martin, Romulus Whitaker, and Kedar Bhide, placing him squarely on the path to research. Constantly involved in numerous herpetological expeditions in the Indian subcontinent, Vishal also engages actively in snakebite research, to understand taxonomy and venom variation both within and between species across the range. His interests lie in behavioural ecology, taxonomy and captive management. He was a consultant herpetologist at Peradeniya University, Sri Lanka, establishing a herpetarium designed for the needs of Sri Lanka-specific antivenom production. Currently collaborating with eminent herpetologists Dr. Anita Malhotra and Dr. Wolfgang Wuster from Bangor University, he is heading a project in the Western Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh, collecting the very first samples of the region.

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