Species in News: Assam Keelback Snake


  • More than a century after it was first seen, the Assam keelback (Herpetoreas pealii) — a snake species endemic to the region — was rediscovered in 2018 by a team from Wildlife Institute of India (WII) near a reserve forest on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border.

About the Keelback

  • When the British had discovered the snake, they had classified it as belonging to the larger keelback species.
  • This particular keelback does not belong to the generalised keelback snake of India but is rather a unique genus (Herpetoreas) belonging to a smaller group of four species, found in Eastern and Western Himalayas, South China and Northeast India.

Other facts to Know

  • There is another snake — Stoliczkia khasiensis, or the Khasi Earth Snake — which was discovered in Meghalaya’s Khasi Hills 150 years ago, but has not been seen after that.
  • Most snakes and other reptiles are categorised as ‘data deficient’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list.
  • The Poba Reserve Forest (RF), where the snake was found, is one of the last remaining patches of low elevation tropical wet forest in the upper Brahmaputra valley.
  • Poba Reserve Forest (RF) is a contiguous forest falling both in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

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