Thiruvananthapuram: Noted herpetologist Dr Bhupathy Subramaniam, 51, died after he slipped down the sloping rocky peak of the Agasthyamalai hills on Monday. As he slipped into a near-free fall, his face crashed into a bamboo cluster below and a pointed bamboo stalk broke and struck deep into his left eye like a dagger.
Dr Bhupathy breathed his last during the 13 hours it took to carry his body, with the sharp bamboo piece pierced on the eye, by his assistants, tribal guides and forest officials from the spot of the fall, some four km above the Athirimala base camp, to the Kunnatheri Kani settlement, 25-odd kilometers downhill.
A principal scientist at the Salim Ali Centre for Orinthology and Natural History (SACON), Dr Bhupathy was heading a three-year study on the patterns of distribution of selected faunal groups on the Agasthyamalai hills. He was there to check the progress of the research project.
“It happened while we were coming down the peak by around 1.30 p.m. Though he had used the rope to go up the peak, he came down in a sliding position, his back facing the rock front,” said Mr V.J. Jins, the junior research fellow who was with Dr Bhupathy when the accident happened.
“Suddenly he lost control and started to fall down the rock face. He fell on a bamboo cluster and crashed face down on the ground. When we turned him around, we found a broken bamboo piece struck inside his left eye. But there was no bleeding. There was no head injury or other serious injuries,” Mr Jins said.
It did not seem that Dr Bhupathy was in pain but he was in a state of deep shock. “He could recognise us but could not speak. He looked breathless. And he was reflexively trying to pull out the bamboo piece from his eye,” Mr Jins said.