snake conservation

Natural history & conservation of the critically endangered snake, Dendrophidion boshelli

Through the Save The Snakes Support Grant Program, Save The Snakes supported Julián Andrés Rojas-Morales in 2018 to mitigate human-snake conflict in the Department of Caldas in Colombia. Julián is a snake researcher and conservation biologist. Julián has previously done ecological research on amphibians and reptiles in Colombia, specifically in the Middle Magdalena River valley.

Project Title:
Natural history and conservation of the critically endangered snake, Dendrophidion boshelli, Dunn 1944.

Project Summary:

Hoshell’s Forest Racer, Dendrophidion boshelli, is a poorly known snake, registered from only two localities in the Middle Magdalena River valley, Colombia. This species was included as critically endangered (CR) in the Red Book of Reptiles of Colombia and the IUCN Redlist due to its restricted distribution and the transformation of its known habitat. All aspects of its natural history are unknown, and intrageneric relationships are poorly understood. In 2015, Julián and some of his colleagues rediscovered this species in a pristine forest near the type locality, offering them the opportunity to conduct a population monitoring study and research other aspects of its natural history.

The rediscovery of this endangered species after 70 years since it’s description, implies the need to develop concrete actions for its conservation. Within this region and throughout the rest of Colombia, snakes face great threats that are decimating their populations. Among the threats identified, the destruction of habitat and the mortality of individuals by people and vehicles seem to be the most common. Julián and his team will aim to address these threats and mitigate them through knowledge of some aspects of the natural history of the species and environmental education to communities.

Aims and Objectives:

The aim of his project is to understand important aspects of the species such as:

1) Relative abundance at the locality of rediscovery

2) Activity patterns and microhabitats use

3) Building an occupancy model to explore the relationship between forest, no forest and the presence of the species

They will also explore other potential areas where the species could be found in the Middle Magdalena River valley. Transversely with the field research, they hope to develop an environmental education program for the local conservation of snakes, including lectures and training of children and adults of the rural community. They will also develop a snake identification guide for the community with the information provided in the trainings.

Read more about Julián Roja’s published work.


(1) Ecological goal: Include the number of registered species of Dendrophidion boshelli to the distribution maps in the area and to assess the state of conservation (population size estimation, use of microhabitats).

(2) Community-based goal: Educating children about snake conservation and develop a guide for the local community.

This project will serve directly to the local community of the Manso River in “Corregimiento Berlín” and its surroundings within the Samaná municipality of the department of Caldas in Colombia. Julián and his team plan to implement an educational program for the conservation of snakes within their locality, with D. boshelli as a flagship species which will benefit countless other snakes in the area

Project Update:
Dendrophidion boshelli is a poorly known and endemic snake species from the Middle Magdalena river valley in Colombia. 2018 Save The Snakes Support Grant recipient Julián Andrés Rojas-Morales is leading the efforts to save this species from extinction. Read his most recently published paper that calls for action for the conservation of this critically endangered species.

snake conservation colombia
Above: Adult male of Dendrophidion boshelli. Below: Julián works to educate the next generation to care about snake conservation. Photographs: Julián Andrés Rojas.

Support Snake Conservation

Julián’s project is a recipient of the 2018 Save The Snakes Support Grant Program. Save The Snakes Support Grants are made possible because of the generosity of compassionate people and organizations who are inspired and dedicated to protect threatened snake populations and mitigate human-snake conflict around the world. Please donate today to help us continue to fund projects like Julián’s snake conservation project in Colombia. Thank you for your support.