To respect the contributions made by Neelimkumar Khaire, 65, an eminent herpetologist as well as the founder of Indian Herpetological Society and Pune’s Katraj Snake Park, a team of scientists from UK and India has named a snake after him.
A post-doctoral scientist from National Center for Biological Sciences, Dr.Varad B Giri, who played a pivotal role in this discovery, stated that the scientific name of this snake is Melanophidium Khaire, and its common name is Black Shieldtail.
He said that the snake is quite different from other species.This new species was discovered from Northern Western Ghats, after a gap of 144 years. This study was published recently in the journal Zootaka.
He stated that this discovery is the result of years of efforts put in by Dr.David Gower from Natural History Museum in the UK. The first specimens were observed at the Bombay Natural History Society when he paid a visit in 2001.
However, he found that it was wrongly identified as what was commonly named as Pied-Bellied Shieldtail, due to its white and black color on the belly. Soon, it was realized that the BNHS species were different.
Soon after sharing the information, the work of identifying the species started and with the help of fresh field surveys by Ashok Captain from HIS and Dr. Mark Wilkinson from NHM, finally it was proved that the species is a different one.
The scientists don’t know much about this Khaire’s Black Shieldtail. All they can say is that it is a burrowing snack which inhabits evergreen forests and is seen above the ground quite rarely. It is 1.8 feet long and eats earthworms.
Khaire expresses his happiness and feels that it s a Gurudakhsina from Captain and Giri, who have done some amazing work in the field. However, the biggest worry for him is the conservation of these reptiles. He is quite worried about the ‘rescue’ of snakes.