Many people go through life feeling uncertain about their calling. Then there are people who just know. For one Indian professor, there was no question about his passion. The Times of India reported on the achievements of Indraneil Das, a professor who invested most of his time into studying amphibians and collecting stamps.
A Lifelong Passion
Indraneil Das began life as a child who was curious about the world around him. He spent summer days at his grandmother’s home in Assam, a state located in Northeast India. He would watch tadpoles as they grew into frogs. This sparked an interest that he would carry with him into adulthood. He began to study amphibians and went on to complete his doctoral degree at Oxford University. His focus was on amphibian ecology followed by a postdoctoral at Harvard.
Today, Das is a herpetology professor for the Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation at the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. That’s a pretty impressive resume, but it isn’t the only thing Das has accomplished. He also amassed the largest, most impressive collection of amphibian stamps the world has ever seen.
Collecting Stamps Across the World
Das’ collection includes 1,600 stamps featuring frogs that took 45 years to gather. Some of his earliest additions hail from his childhood, back when his interest in this field of study was born.
He explained that “I used to lay my hands on everything that had frogs. Naturally, I have over the years built up a sizeable collection of crystal frogs, frog art, t-shirts, with frog prints or shoes designed like frogs. While this may appear odd, many others collect stamps on themes, such as the Indian flag, Mahatma Gandhi, etc. A philatelist colleague from Athens, Petrus Girondis, for instance, has some 5,000-plus stamps on turtles. When it came to stamps, I naturally turned to frogs.”
The hobby began to cover regions throughout India and beyond. One thing that stood out to Das was the disparity between the varieties of frog species in an area compared to the number of stamps issued representing the creatures.
He found that large countries would have enormous biodiversity, yet only issued a few number of frog stamps. India, for example, has environments that are plentiful, yet only issued five frog stamps total. Meanwhile, smaller countries would issue far more. Ecuador is smaller than India, yet issued 25 amphibian stamp designs.
Das explained that “of the 7,764 living species of amphibians found in the world, India is home to 410. England has three frog species but has issued as many amphibian stamps as India. Australia, a vast country, has issued 17 stamps on frogs.”
Frog Stamps on Display
If you were lucky enough to find yourself in Kuching, Sarawak on October 4th, 2017, then you may have caught a glimpse of Das’ stamp collection. His finds were showcased across 450 panels at a philately exhibition to commemorate the Sarawak Biodiversity Evening and World Animal Day event.
At this point, Das has collected almost every stamp of frogs issued by 195 countries and issuing authorities like the United Nations Postal Agency. Stamp collecting has proven to be a great way to celebrate an interest. For beginner collectors interested in natural life, the USPS plans to release a bioluminescence series (The USPS Reveals New Stamp Series to Be Added in 2018) this year that will feature plant and sea life as well as insects that would make a unique addition to a growing stamp collection.