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Romulus Whitaker, Madras Crocodile Bank/Centre for Herpetology and more

Could you state your name and the organisations you co-founded

Romulus Whitaker, I co-fouded:

a) Madras Crocodile Bank/Centre for Herpetology
b) Irula Snake-catchers Cooperative Society
c) Andaman and Nicobar Islands Environmental Team/Centre for Island Ecology
d) Agumbe Rainforest Research Station
e) Gharial Survival Alliance

When were the organisations founded?

a) 1975 
b) 1978
c) 1989 
d) 2005 
e) 2007

What is your position or role in the organisations?

Currently I’m Founder/Trustee of a), c), d) and e) and Founder/Technical Advisor of b)

What are the main goals of your organisations?

a) MCBT - Herpetological research and conservation in India and South Asia
b) ISCCS - Guaranteed livelihood for marginalized snake-catching tribal people and supply of venom for the antivenom industry
c) ANET - Research, conservation and public outreach in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
d) ARRS - Research, conservation and public outreach in the rainforests of the Western Ghats of India with the Vulnerable King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) as the chief icon
e) GTA - Research, conservation and public outreach to ensure the survival of the Critically Endangered Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus)

Could you tell us something about recent projects?

a) The Madras Crocodile Bank’s new Master Plan has been approved by the Central Zoo Authority of India and we are now on a fund-raising binge to make this the most outstanding reptile zoo in the universe

b) The Irula Cooperative needs to be transformed into a Multistate Cooperative in order to source snake venoms from throughout India to improve the production of a much more effective antivenom

c) ANET has an MoU with the Nationa Center for Biological Sciences and is collaborating with Dakshin Foundation  and the Govt Dept of Education to produce an updated version of the Teacher’s Training Manual “Treasured Islands” and continuing it’s multifarious acitivities throughout the island archipelago

d) ARRS is expanding its scope and public interface by creating a Rainforest Interpretation Center with the support of the Whitley Fund for Nature. It continues its general conservation and research work in wildlife biology with a formal tieup with the National Center for Biological Sciences in Bangalore and will soon be expanding lab facilities for onsite rainforest research activities.

e) GCA is actively supporting the ground-breaking radio-telemetry gharial project on the Chambal River, the last stronghold of the species, headed by Jeffrey W. Lang. GCA is also actively in socio-economic studies in the villages along the rivers where gharial still occur.

What is in your opinion the biggest success of your organisation since it started?

Probably the biggest successes of our work is putting India’s reptiles on the wildlife map of the world and the recruitment of a huge coterie of keen young biologists to get the work done!

Do you have any specific goals in the near future?

Only to continue what we’ve always done, but twice as effectively!

Why is your work so important?

Mainly because the world of reptiles and some of the remote places we work in have never been given the kind of importance, emphasis or publicity they need.

Could you give an idea, what organisations like the Herpetofauna Foundation, can contribute to your work?

The Herpetofauna Foundation has already generously contributed to our work both monetarily as well as by spreading the word about our work way over here in India and for this we are really most grateful! Funding for herpetological work, snakebite mitigation and saving the gharial is always welcome, as well as publicity and offers of volunteer work.

How can people get involved in your work?

Please visit our websites (listed below) and see for yourself the kind of work we do and how you might like to be involved. We have volunteer and docent positions and sometimes even job offers, so there are exciting opportunities to work for reptile (and other taxa) conservation in India. Do get in touch with us!

Please visit the below sites and write to us for updates and more info:

http://draco-india.com
www.madrascrocodilebank.org
www.anetindia.org
www.agumberainforest.com
www.gharialconservation.org