Research: To actively promote and coordinate research and surveys within South Africa.
Scientist & Students: To offer guidance and assistance, but to also ensure that visiting herpetologists operate within the current legislation and permit system. The Institute would also provide field trips for specific needs at a modest cost, if required. In either case all data gathered would be made available to the Institute, and forwarded on to Cape Nature. Any samples taken would be lodged at the relevant museum or university within the Western Cape, or other relevant province.
Education & Training: To provide training to staff of Nature Reserves and Game reserves in how to identify and deal with reptiles, particularly snakes, on their property. Reptile talks and demonstrations would be offered to schools.
Consultancy: To provide help and advice, and possible mitigation solutions, to landowners, developers, and farmers with regard to reptiles on their property.
Liaison: To work closely with CapeNature and the Environmental Crime Investigation Services, and other such organisations by forming positive working relationships and effective links to other interested parties.
Dr Tony Phelps
A field biologist well known for his long term study of the European adder in the UK. He now does similar work on a variety of snake species in South Africa, including the puff adder and cape cobra.
He has published extensively on the subject. His first book Poisonous Snakes was published in 1981. Another comprehensive book Old World Vipers was published in 2010. He is also completing a book on the European adder which represents thirty years of study.
Dr Tony Phelps encourages students to study the behaviour of snakes in the wild; an aspect much neglected. In addition to actual study he also is a well known stills photographer and film maker.