Herpetology Section

Herpetology section houses the national reference collection for reptiles (crocodiles, tortoises, terrapins, marine turtles, lizards, snakes) and amphibians (toads, frogs, caecilians). It forms an international reference point for taxonomists, conservationist, aspiring herpetologists /students as well as farmers, medical doctors and interested members of the public.

The Herpetology section, established in 1971, houses over 30, 000 specimens as wet and dry collections. Some of the species date back to the First World War (1914 -1918). Most of the specimens come from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and other East African countries. However there are sizable collections from Southern, central and western Africa countries. The collection contains type material (Holotypes and Para-types) for about 30 species.

Research Themes
The section collects and documents herpetofaunal data in the fields of taxonomy, systematic, bio-geography, community ecology, natural history, conservation and sustainable use initiative.

We offer services such as specimen identification, education and public awareness; inspection of reptile farms and parks to offer expert opinion on their infrastructure and welfare of the captive animals.

The section runs an annual training course on biology of reptiles and amphibians to naturalist under the Kenya herpetofauna Working Group who register through Nature Kenya (The East African Natural History Society).

Ongoing Research Projects

  • Habitat restoration for IUCN Red- List Endangered Sagalla Caecilian Boulengerula niedeni in Sagalla hill, Taita Hills.
  • Monitoring the status of IUCN Red- List Endangered Shimba hills Reed Frog Hyperolius rubrovermiculatus, Shimba hills Spiny Reed frog afrixalus sylvaticus and Changamwe Caecilian Boulengerula changamwensis in the Mukurumudzi River Dam riparian zone.
  • Assessment of Shimba hills National Reserve and its environs amphibian bio-geography.
  • Baseline assessment of reptiles and amphibians of Mt. Marsabit forest ecosystem, Marsabit county
  • Survey and monitoring herpeto-fauna of coastal protected areas (Shimoni, Shimba hills, Lake Kenyatta, Lake Jipe, Witu, Boni and Dondori).
  • Biodiversity (reptiles and amphibians) monitoring in Laikipia Nature Conservancy (Ol Ari Nyiro).

Collaborators and Affiliates 

  • Bio-Ken Snake Farm, Watamu, Malindi, Kenya.
  • Prof. Dr. Michael Veith & Dr. Stefan Lotters: University of Trier, Germany
  • Dr. Simon P. Loader, University of Basel, Switzerland
  • Dr. Mark Wilkinson, The Natural History Museum, London, UK.

Staff List

  • Dr. Patrick K. Malonza (Senior research Scientist and Head of Section).
    Research Focus: Reptile and amphibian taxonomy,community ecology, bio-geography, ethno-herpetology.
  • Beryl  A. Bwong (Research Scientist)
    Research Focus: Amphibian ecology and taxonomy.
  • Victor D. Wasonga (Research Scientist)
    Research Focus: Amphibian ecology and taxonomy.
  • Vincent Muchai (Research Scientist)
    Research Focus: Amphibian ecology
  • Joash O. Nyamache(Laboratory Technician)
    Research Focus: Reptile field ecology
  • Justus Ochong (Volunteer, Laboratory Technician)
    Research Focus: Ichthyology & Herpetology field techniques

Events calendar

  • Training course on Fundamentals of Herpetology (a collaborative programme between NMK and Nature Kenya (the East African Natural History Society):Annual


Staff Profile