Next Gen Herpetologist

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I am proud to announce that I am no longer a Masters of Science student (MSc), as I have recently upgraded to being a PhD candidate. What this basically means is that I forgo masters and go straight to doctorate level. The work that I have been doing, in completion of my MSc, will now be adjusted, modified and expanded upon, to create a PhD dissertation that I will hopefully submit the… Read More

On the 19th of October I was very fortunate to receive the inaugural D&J Ranchhod Bursary in honour of the late Mr Dale Ranchhod, a long-serving member of the Zoology & Entomology Department. I received the certificate from Mrs Jasu Ranchhod at a formal function held in the Department foyer. I was nominated for the award by members of the academic staff making the award an incredible honour. After the formal ceremony… Read More

I am honoured to announce that this year I received the Laura Starke Memorial Bursary Award for the second time. Unlike many bursaries that focus on academic merit, this bursary is special in the sense that it takes more than ones’ academic achievements into account when selecting a candidate. For this reason I am incredibly grateful to receive this award because it represents the acknowledgement of the sum of my efforts within… Read More

Two thousand and eighteen was an eventful year for me because not only have I made huge strides in my professional career, but I have also managed to make a sizable impact on the larger Grahamstown community through my ever expanding snake awareness program. In recognition of my contribution to the city, I was nominated for two prestigious awards by Rhodes University; namely the Rhodes Community Engagement Award and the Rhodes Environmental Award. Although… Read More

from the 13th to the 16th of August I attended the Joint SANBI Biodiversity Information Management & Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme (FBIP) Forum in Cape St Francis. I attended the conference with my supervisor Dr Shelley Edwards (Lecturer Rhodes University) and we were joined by my co-supervisor; Werner Conradie (PE Museum Head Herpetological Curator) and friend; Theo Busschau (Masters Student Stellenbosch University). The conference was well-attended with over a hundred delegates from… Read More

On Sunday the 18th of march I hosted a private snake ‘walk and talk’ for the nature club of Graham High School. Although it was intended as a two part event, only the talk took place because of the bad weather conditions. Due to the cold weather, and the intermittent thunderstorms, we were unable to go out and explore the wilder parts of Grahamstown, in search of reptiles and frogs. Nevertheless, the… Read More

On friday the 17th of November, myself and Luke Kemp hosted a ‘Herpetofauna of Grahamstown talk in the Rhodes Zoology and Entomology tea room for members of the department. The talk discussed all the reptiles and frogs that can be found in Grahamstown and gave tips on how to distinguish morphologically-similar species. The talk also discussed basic snakebite treatment and was capped off with a short demonstration with live specimens. All in… Read More

This list is in no particular order and is based on what I have seen inside or very close to Grahamstown. Boomslang (Dispholidus typus typus) Size: 1.2-1.5m. Habits: Diurnal snakes which are found in a large variety of habitats, most commonly in trees and shrubs, but may descend to the floor to bask or find food. Diet: Chameleons, frogs, tree-living lizards, birds and occasionally rodents. Danger to man: The boomslang possesses a very dangerous haemotoxic venom… Read More

Amatola Flat Gecko (Afroedura amatolica) Family: Gekkonidae. Size: 10-12cm. Distribution: They are endemic to the Amatola mountain range of Eastern Cape. Description: Small flat gecko with large eyes and a fat segmented tail. Adults are uniform white/grey with black/brown mottling all over the body. Habits: A rock-dwelling (rupiculous) species that can be found in rock cracks, often in large aggregations, in areas with grassland and thicket. Reproduction: Egg-laying species that lays two hard-shelled eggs underneath… Read More

Today I received my samples back from their holiday in Amsterdam, and I am happy to announce that all but one sample worked. The samples from today coupled with the samples I received last month amount to 75 successfully sequenced samples to date. These samples, which comprise four genes, make up a large proportion of my sample set and thus represent a massive step forward in the completion of my thesis. But… Read More

Recently I was contacted by a Rhodes journalism student who was in the process of completing an article about snakes for the Grocotts Mail. Although strange to admit, given my current path as a MSc zoology student focusing on snake genetics, I was once in her shoes, completing my hours at the Midrand Reporter in pursuit of my second year Rhodes Journalism and Media Studies credit. Although I am very much a ‘science kid’ now, I… Read More

The Herp Files was created by myself and Luke Kemp. It was created with the intention of showing off the reptiles and frogs of Southern Africa. The videos include general information about each species with interesting facts thrown in between. It is our attempt to expose the beauty of South Africa’s enormous herpetological diversity while having just a ‘bit’ of fun. This video focuses on the the cape cobra (Naja nivea), one… Read More

So as I am sure you have you gathered, I could not let the little ‘sheep stabbers’ go. Instead of just finishing my honours and leaving the skaapstekers in my rear view mirror, like I did with the painted reed frogs, I decided to continue on studying the snake with the addition of everyone else in the genus. Unlike with my honours, my masters will investigate the entire genus which is ‘currently’ six… Read More

I am one step closer to becoming a professional herpetologist and its all because I was too stubborn to listen to my science teacher. This past week was graduation at Rhodes University and I am happy to say I got my honours degree In African Vertebrate Bioiversity with distinction. This all comes after performing mighty averagely for the past few years, especially in school where I was the ‘average kid’, capable of… Read More

Following our trip to the Transkei , Werner Conradie, Luke kemp and I departed for the biennial Herpetological Association of Africa (HAA) conference in Hluhluwe, Kwazulu Natal. We spent the night of the 22nd of January in my cousins beach house in Umhlanga and the next day we departed for Hluhluwe after a quick stop at Ushaka International Airport, to pick up Professor Bill Branch (World-renowned African herpetologist) and Ninda Baptiste (Angolan herpetologist)…. Read More

Text adapted from trip report completed by Luke Kemp and I last month . Purpose of trip Recently Luke kemp and I joined a data collecting trip in the Transkei forested region as part of an ongoing study, spearheaded by Stellenbosch University. There were many teams studying many facets of forest ecology but we, Werner Conradie (Head Herpetologist at Bayworld Museum) and Theo Busschau (MSc student at Stellenbosch University) were tasked with collecting herpetological… Read More

Recently, Luke Kemp and I attended the 13th biennial HAA (Herpetological Association of Africa) conference in Bonamanzi Game Reserve, Hluhluwe, Kwazulu Natal. The conference took place from 23-27 January 2017. This video forms part of a two part mini-series designed to showcase our experiences at the conference. This is a collection of some of the animals we managed to find and some of the herpetologists we managed to corner in front of the… Read More

Recently, Luke Kemp and I attended the 13th biennial HAA (Herpetological Association of Africa) conference in Bonamanzi Game Reserve, Hluhluwe, Kwazulu Natal. The conference took place from 23-27 January 2017. This video forms part of a two part mini-series designed to showcase our experiences at the conference. This is a collection of some of the animals we managed to find and some of the herpetologists we managed to corner in front of… Read More

Recently Luke and I ventured to Northern Cape in search of some of South Africa’s most insane reptiles.This is the last of four videos, created to show you, the best parts of our trip. In this video we show off the reptiles of Aggeneys and we also detail the lighter side of our trip and the best parts along the way.