Welcome to my personal page, focused on my activities, my scientific and popular papers and on the vision I have for wildlife conservation.
My interest for animals, notably amphibians and reptiles, dates back much time ago, when I was a kid. So far, I always felt a fascination for cold-blooded animals. I was attracted by a world of nature. Then, as often happens, I developed an interest in keeping captive animals, especially fishes, amphibians, and reptiles. Although this “zoo-keeper” orientation and feeling accompanied me for many years, now I consider it just a sort of “early phase” of a general interest for wildlife, a real biophilia (sensu E. O. Wilson).
This attitude was soon replaced by a deeper and true interest in wild animals, their life history and conservation of natural habitats. Although I still appreciate studies, efforts and results obtained by dedicated terrarium-keepers, and I often use my former experience in this field to take for a while captive animals, I believe that it is far better to avoid capturing animals and taking them in captivity, unless for really justified (scientific and/or conservation) reasons.
Currently, my interest is oriented on conservation biology, in particular of amphibians and reptiles. The clear evidence that a considerably part of frogs, toads, tree frogs, newts, salamanders, and caecilians is under severe threat, led me to consider crucial to devote part of my activities, energies to achieve their conservation. Moreover, I always perceived the fact that the habitat degradation and human actions have negative impacts on many amphibian species and populations, and their ecosystems.
In the last decades I spent much of my time in studying the astonishing herpetofauna of Madagascar, a country that is extraordinarily rich in amphibian species (more than 300 currently known, and about around the same number of still undescribed candidate species), but that is also also dramatically fragile and very delicate.
I am acting as Co-chair for the IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group for Madagascar In all these years I visited many of the country rainforests, savannas and deserts, searching for herps and for documenting their status. Strangely enough, we did not detect (yet?) any extinct Malagasy frog, although this perception may be misleading: the high number of species still to be described clearly advocates for the former existence (and probable extinction) of unknown species.
For this, my first objective was to build an action plan that could be used by Malagasy authorities to conserve their unique herpetofauna. This was my goal (see here if you are interested to read the New Sahonagasy Action Plan), and I hope to be not only a dream, but a real opportunity. At the same time, I am also extremely fascinated by the interactions between the natural world and the humans. Studying nature within a wonderful country like Madagascar led me to consider useless any conservation action that is separate from an approach to human development.
A video about the study conducted some years ago in the Isalo National Park, Madagascar, on the rainbow toad, Scaphiophryne gottlebei.