Next Gen Herpetologist

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The research paper that my colleagues and I published last year, in which we described both a new genus and species of snake, was recently featured in the Grocott’s Mail. The animals in question belong to a large group of snakes called Psammophiinae, that can be found from the Cape of Good of Hope all the way to Uzbekistan. The work of our group helped clarify many taxonomic problems within the group. This… Read More

Authors: Werner Conradie, V Deepak, Chad Keates, David J Gower Abstract: The African natricine genus Limnophis is represented by two species: Limnophis bicolor Günther, 1865 and Limnophis bangweolicus (Mertens, 1936). They are stout-bodied, semi-aquatic snakes that mostly feed on fish and amphibians, and occur from Botswana and Namibia in the south throughout most of Zambia and Angola to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the north. We gathered new material from… Read More

My research on Psammophylax, that yielded both a new species and new genus, was recently featured in four dependent newspapers, from across the Eastern Cape. These newspapers include The Daily Dispatch (East London), The Herald (Port Elizabeth), Talk of the Town (Port Alfred) and The Rep (Queenstown). Whilst arduous to complete, the research that represents a large portion of my doctoral thesis, is a massive source of pride and I feel privileged… Read More

From the 5th to the 10th of January, I attended the 9th World Congress of Herpetology in Dunedin, New Zealand. The conference draws the best herpetologists in the world, and as a young and upcoming scientist, it was a massive honour and a privilege. South Africa was well represented at the conference, with Mike Bates, Warren Schmidt, Gary Kyle Nicolau, Emily Jackson, Alan Channing, Shelley Edwards and Werner Conradie in attendance. At… Read More

From the the 9th to the 13th of September 2019, I attended the 14th Herpetological Conference of Africa in Cape St Francis, Eastern Cape. It was my second HAA, and my word was it fun. I got to meet old friends, and make new ones, I got to meet great herpetologists and for a brief moment, got to feel like a great when one the fans of Snakes and Their Mates asked… Read More

At a celebratory function on Tuesday 25 September 2019, I received the Environmental Award (Individual Category) for my contribution to the Grahamstown environmental community through my snake awareness talks, critter walks and school demonstrations. In addition to my certificate I received a very unique and beautiful floating trophy that currently sits atop my shelf in my departmental office. The award was presented to me by Prof Hugo Nel and Associate Prof. Michelle Cocks… Read More

Last year, Dr Shelley Edwards and I were interviewed for an article entitled ‘Reptile Detectives’, for the prestigious Rhodes Research Report. The Report that comes out annually highlights all the research that took place over the year, with anecdotes about key researchers strewn throughout the book. In the 2018 edition, that came out late last year, the editors sought out young researchers who were conducting cutting edge and/or novel research. Given mine… Read More

Authors: Chad Keates, Werner Conradie, Eli Greenbaum, Shelley Edwards Abstract: Psammophylax (Fitzinger 1843) is a widespread yet poorly studied genus of African grass snakes. A genetic phylogeny of six of the seven species was estimated using multiple phylogenetic and distance‐based methods. To support the genetic analyses, we conducted morphological analyses on the body (traditional morphology) and head (geometric morphometrics) separately. Phylogenetic analyses recovered a similar topology to past studies, but with better resolution… Read More

On Tuesday the 11th of February I did a snake talk at Fort Brown Primary School. The school which can be found 40km from Grahamstown, on the Fort Beaufort Road road, is quaint but lovely. The students were attentive and the setting was nothing short of scenic. The talk was attended by approximately 40 students, ranging from 10 to 13 years of age. Although scared at first, many took the opportunity in… Read More

On the 30th of September I attended the Highlander restaurant and bar to deliver a snake awareness talk to members of the the Grahamstown Probus Club. The talk was incredibly well received with only a handful of pensioners falling asleep on the day. The talk was followed by a vigorous array of questions and then a lovely lunch. All in all, it was a lovely day which both I, and hopefully my… Read More

On August the 23rd I attended at the ECPTA (Eastern Cape Parks Tourism Association) Field Rangers Day at Thomas Baines Nature Reserve, to showcase some of the reptiles found in the Albany area. I represented ZEML (Zoology and Entomology Molecular Lab) along with my supervisor; Dr Shelley Edwards and my lab colleague Anthony Evlambiou. We were also joined by members of CBC (Centre for Biological Control), who showcased some of the invasive… Read More

On the 16th of August, I delivered a snake demonstration for students of Shaw Park Primary School. Although young, the students were incredibly attentive and took every opportunity to ask questions about the snakes on display. At the end of the demontration, almost all the kids took the opportunity to handle some of the non-venomous snakes, some of them for the first time. All in all it was a great experience, and… Read More

On the 16th of August I traveled to Sibuya Private Game Reserve, about 10km from Kenton-on-Sea, and presented a snake talk for the rangers working there. The talk focused on the ‘Snakes of Albany’ and discussed snake biology, snake identification and snakebite treatment. The talk was well received and was followed by a short snake handling tutorial, in which I showcased the correct management strategy for problem snakes. Following this, all the rangers… Read More

On 14 August, I delivered a snake talk to Grade 9 learners at Victoria Girls High school. The aim was to expose the girls to the amazing world of reptiles, and more specifically snakes. The talk ran for 30 minutes and consisted of general information about Grahamstown reptile diversity, followed by a short breakdown of snake biology and the common snakes of the area. The talk was followed by a 15 minute… Read More

Last year I was interviewed by Anima McBrown in connection with my snake-related work in and around Grahamstown. The result was this awesomely written article in this years edition of the Rhodos Magazine. The publication is dedicated to the communication and advancement of Rhodes University, and I am very proud to feature in it. You can find the article in the attached PDF Document. Click to access RHODOS_WEB_FINAL_72ppi_high.pdf

On the 27th of July 2019, I did a snake presentation for members of the Grahamstown Garden Club in Grahamstown. The talk was well received with people eagerly asking questions throughout the talk. I spoke about the common and endemic species of snake found in the Albany area, and what to do if one encounters a snake in their daily lives. In addition to detailing the snakes of the area, I also… Read More

On the 5th of June, I presented a snake awareness talk and demonstration for school students at Thomas Baines Nature Reserve, in honour of World Environmental Day. The talk was attended by various-aged primary school students from multiple different Grahamstown Schools. There are few thing in this world as wonderful as watching a child handle a snake for the first time. It is the amalgamation of fear and awe, it is joy… Read More

During mid-June I ventured coast wards to do a frog talk for the Probus Club, at the Port Alfred Ski Boat Club. The talk was incredibly well received with over 80 people attending on the day. In addition to the members of the club, the talk was also attended by Talk of the Town (Local Port Alfred newspaper). In the talk I discussed basic frog biology, behavior and the threats that face… Read More