As a snake-besotted little boy growing up in New York, I was fortunate that my mother married an Indian and we moved over to the Land of Snakes when I was seven. I don’t think I ever entertained any aspiration or profession other than working with reptiles, it was obviously pre-programmed in my genes. To combine the need to make a living and yet pursue what was once seen as a somewhat weird occupation, the natural result was the setting up of India’s first reptilarium, the Madras Snake Park. And this quite naturally led me down the path of endangered species and their conservation, tribal issues and human-animal conflict.
The result, over the following decades, and with the dedicated collaboration of friends and family, was the establishment of the Madras Crocodile Bank, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Environmental Team, Irula Snake-Catchers Cooperative, Irula Tribal Women’s Society, Gharial Conservation Alliance and Agumbe Rainforest Research Station. All these organizations continue to provide opportunities to young wildlife biologists to pursue their fantasies. They have also helped to give snakes, crocodiles, lizards, turtles, tortoises, frogs and toads a positive place in the Indian public mind.