The South Asian region, which includes Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan, is one of the biologically richest areas in the world. The confluence of different biogeographical realms and a varied physiography has endowed this region with an amazing range of habitats and a diverse & highly endemic biota. In fact, the region boasts of three out of the 34 global biodiversity hotspots that are currently recognized: the forests of South-western India-Sri Lanka, Himalaya, and those in Northeast India-Bhutan-Bangladesh (the Indo-Burma hotspot). In terms of amphibian and reptiles as well, South Asia has one of the richest assemblages in the world.

It is increasingly becoming apparent that much of this diversity is being lost to habitat alteration or direct exploitation without even basic documentation.

Common ground

Most of us would agree that our knowledge of the region’s diverse herpetofauna is far from adequate, and that only an expanded knowledge base on the ecology and evolutionary biology of South Asian herpetofauna will allow more effective conservation strategies to be formulated and tested. And for this to happen, cooperation between workers in the region and elsewhere is needed. Nothing can advance our knowledge better than cooperative effort in research and conservation. Many committed individuals and organizations are already making significant contributions to herpetological research and conservation in the region at different scales. However, most of them are restricted to various (generally political) sections of the region. Many of these prefer to work in isolation of their own choice, and with good reason. But often, it is simply logistical problems that impede communication. Often, even minor details like contact information, and project details are hard to come by even when the person or project is/are situated in a nearby area. The need for communication between workers across political boundaries (for instance, there is literally much common ground between herpetologists working in Bangladesh, and in Northeast and Eastern India), and even between different regions of the same country (e.g., North-eastern and South-western India) definitely remains.


The Discussion Group

Networking between herpetologists in such a large region is bound to be challenging, especially due to logistical reasons. The internet offers a reliable and affordable medium that allows regular communication between people. So what better way to attempt such a regional networking than through an e-discussion group?

With these thoughts, a discussion e-group for Herpetology In South Asia, "HISAsia" was launched in December 2002 with the objective of creating an open forum for issues related to the natural history, systematics, ecology, evolution, biogeography and conservation of amphibians and reptiles in south Asia. The main objectives of the the discussion group is to offer a common platform for people to interact and to exchange ideas. The discussion group is also supported by a resource portal of herpetology in the region, which is growing steadily and to which we hope you will contribute further. The portal also provides information about the trends of herpetological research and conservation in the region, and helps prevent duplication of effort.

The group is open to those who interested in the region's herpetofauna, and want to be involved in discussions and/or share resources. Everybody, South Asian or not, is welcome to join! For information on how to subscribe to the group, please visit the HISASIA e-group information page. We hope you will actively take part in this discussion group and help improve herpetological research and conservation effort in South Asia.