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 Post subject: A Photographic Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of Lanka
 Post Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 3:48 am 
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of Sri Lanka
Book on reptiles: A must for every household

Reviewed by Ifham Nizam
@ The Island / Jan2006

A Photographic Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of Sri Lanka by Anslem De Silva and Indraneil Das focusses on 136 of the 176 species of Sri Lanka. Introducing 93 snake species, 72 lizard species, nine turtle species and two crocodile species.

The guide in full deals with 67 snake species, 58 lizard species, and nine species of turtles that includes terrapins and tortoises- and two crocodile species.


It also deals with more abundant and many otherwise distinctive species of snakes, lizards, crocodiles and turtles that one is likely to encounter representing nearly every genus.

Anslem and Indraneil have also not forgotten to include exotic or non native species, namely the Red-eared Slider scientifically known as Trachemys scripta, a native species of North America now accidentally introduced into water bodies in the country through the pet trade.

The authors have put on a lot of effort to give a brief but useful description of every species covered. Scale counts and other data from Sri Lankan population of reptiles as far as possible and a summary of available information on the biology of the species, with one or more colour photographs are also included.

Accounts of each species has a recommended English, Sinhala and Tamil name and also the scientific name.

The book is compact in an easy to use format, the ideal pocket sized travelling companion for anybody. Authoritative text by experienced field herpetologists by Anslem de Silva.

Anslem has worked tirelessly on Sri Lankan amphibians and reptiles for nearly half a century. As Wildlife Heritage Trust (WHT) Chief and well known naturalist Rohan Pethiyagoda termed Anslem has done more for conservation in Sri Lanka than anyone else.

A rare and endangered new species of lizard was named in his honour in the middle of last year; Calotes desilvai is not included in this book. Possibly, it was too late when it went to press.

The authors have also not forgotten to give a description and a summary of its biology and distribution in Sri Lanka and elsewhere.

Length given is the maximum recorded for individual species: snout-vent length for snakes, lizards and crocodiles straight carapace length for terrapins, tortoises and turtles.

The other key feature of this book is that it is priced at Rs. 999 by the retailer Vijith Yapa, is 30 per cent less than the international price.

Unlike many other books on the said subjects, this book focuses on snake bite and its management, as many Sri Lankans are concerned especially because of the highest mortality rate in the world due to snake bites.

This book is a must for every household and if possible a Sinhala and Tamil translation would greatly benefit especially for our rural folks.

The book also deals with the protected species in Sri Lanka, conservation on reptiles, climate, and landscapes and about the vegetation in Sri Lanka.

Sadly, however, the book lacks key symbols or the indicators like snakes whose bite is fatal.

Despite having a number of quality pictures by none other than Anslem himself, the cover of this book highlights the Sri Lankan Green Pit viper or scientifically Trimeresurus trigonocephalus, this snake first used by Anslem in his famous book Colour Guide to the Snakes of Sri Lanka.

Anslem is an authority on reptiles, amphibians, and their habitats conservation in Sri Lanka. Counts nearly forty years of intimate knowledge on these said animal species. He also has to his credit more than three hundred papers in nature and other journals that also includes several books.

He was also responsible for bidding and getting the prestigious herpetological forum. The Fourth Conference of World Congress on Herpetology in addition to several other international conferences to the country. At present, Anslem is a Visiting Lecturer on Herpetology at the Rajarata University.

Coming back to the book, it looks at the common species as well on some rarer, and in some cases highly endangered species.

The 144-page book is illustrated with nearly 300 colour photographs and a colour map of the areas.

Certain species of reptile are under threat due to their being a popular food source in Sri Lanka or because of the demand for their skins.

Foreign tourists and for those who want to distinguish the harmless reptiles from the venomous are among the target market of this book.

New Holland Export Sales Manager Andrew Menniss was was kind enough to send The Island a copy of the book to review. His contribution is appreciated.

Pictures courtesy: Anslem de Silva, Indraneil Das and New Holland.

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