For Varad Giri, discovering a new species of snake was a dream come true. To add to his joy, the newly discovered species has been named after him — Dendrepahis girii.
“I am happy that the new snake species has been named after me. It is an honour for a researcher,” said an elated Giri, deputy director (collections) and curator of the herpetological collection, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).
Experts on snake taxonomy from Germany Dr Gernot Vogel and Dr Johan Van Rooijen have written about the Dendrepahis girii in their scientific research paper, which was published in Taprobanica journal on December 20.
In 2001, researchers Ashok Captain and Kedar Bhide had first discovered the new species at Amboli in Sindhudurg.
They tried to identify the snake using scientific techniques and concluded that it is very close to the Dendrelaphis bifrenalis, a species from Sri Lanka. They released the reptile after taking a few photographs.
In 2002, while researching on the reptiles in the western ghats, especially in Goa, Giri and Sameer Kehimkar stumbled upon a snake whose features matched closely the existing Dendrepahis species.
“This snake was quite different in many characteristic features. So, we brought it to BNHS for the further study and observation,” said Giri.
A similar species had been identified in the forests of Castle Rock in Karnataka and in Tamil Nadu.
When Dr Vogel had visited BNHS in 2009, Giri had shown him his discovery. “Based on the data and photographs taken by Captain and Bhide, Dr Rooijen prepared the scientific paper and named the snake after me,” said Giri.
“We wanted to dedicate this species to Giri. He has contributed enormously to the knowledge of the Indian reptiles by his own research and by making the BNHS collection wide, rich and easily available for researchers,” said Dr Vogel.