Herpetology of the Republic of Congo
The amphibians and reptiles of Central Africa are among of the world’s least known animals. Among studies conducted in Central African countries, the herpetofauna of the Republic of Congo is particularly poorly represented, and within that country, the forested northern half of the country remains virtually unstudied.
I have carried out four herpetological expeditions to northern Congo, the first in 1997, when I was a student at Harvard University, which coincided with a civil war and ended with a medical evacuation. The next three expeditions took place in 2005, 2006 and 2008, in the flooded forest of the Likouala Region.
With each expedition it seems that my list of objectives grows longer. In 1997 and 2005 my only goal was to collect in order to produce a preliminary list of the amphibians and reptiles present in the region. In 2006 and 2008 I added bringing Congolese graduate students into the field with me to train them in herpetological surveying, and in 2008 we added testing amphibians for chytrid fungus, a skin disease implicated in the worldwide decline of amphibian populations, to our list of things to do.
I invite you to read about the 2005, 2006 and 2008 expeditions at the links below. If you would like to read about this work in more detail, scientific articles about my Congo work can be found on the publications page, and if you’re still wondering what it’s really like to collect snakes in the swamp forest of northern Congo, information about my new book describing my experiences carrying out these surveys can be found on the main page.