Hi everyone, I’m Hiral!
I am a herpetologist and conservation biologist currently pursuing a PhD in herpetology at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. My core research interests focus on snake ecology and evolutionary biology but I enjoy working on a wide range of topics in herpetology, ecology and conservation. I enjoy asking key questions about how species have evolved, adapted to their current conditions and co-exist with other taxonomic groups.
I am currently also working as the Africa Program Manager for Save The Snakes on various exciting snake research, education and conservation projects in South Africa and hope to expand this to the rest of Africa!
Born with a wanderlust gene and zest for adventure, each day I strive to be anywhere but home. My goal is to make a positive impact on the world, the natural environment and the people and wildlife that live in it through environmental awareness, science communication and education. I believe that along with other change-makers, we can make a difference in this world by forming key partnerships and collaborations.
A little bit about my background
I was born in Zimbabwe and lived there until the age of 10. I then moved to India, lived there for 2 years and then moved to Sunny South Africa where I am currently based. As an Indian female born in Africa I was lucky to have experienced various cultures, interactions with wildlife and a heritage of knowledge about the world. While many people realize their dream to travel and change the world only later in life, I knew I wanted to travel the world when I was 4 and I always wanted to contribute to something big. My early experiences in travel inspired my love for travel and exploration. I guess I was an adventurer and explorer from the very beginning and now combined with my desire to play ‘captain planet’ and play a part in saving the world, I strive to do my best to make people aware of the need to conserve the wildlife and natural spaces on our planet. Somewhere along the lines, I fell in love with reptiles which is where much of my academic and non-academic interests are. From living in the remote forests in South America to the beautiful wild bushes in Africa, I strive to collaborate with organisations and individuals from across the world and share their extraordinary stories. As the world moves into the technological revolution, I combine my research, data and technological skills to develop innovative methods to understand the natural world.
My current work
My current work focuses on snake research, education and conservation both in South Africa and globally. Human-snake conflict is a big challenge that I hope to try and mitigate through my work at Save The Snakes and hopefully in the near future we will expand this further into the rest of Africa. My PhD work focuses particularly in trying to understand snake behaviour and what makes snakes bite. In the future, I hope to combine my passion for reptiles and travel the world to educate people about them and mitigate human-snake conflict. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of several initiatives and projects. Check them out here.
When I’m not sitting behind my computer, I am usually herping (looking for frogs and reptiles), hiking, birding, doing photography, art, scuba diving (any adrenalin rushing activity actually), doing yoga, art, reading or exploring some wilderness area and going on an adventure.