Lalita Karki (pronounced as Lah-lee-ta Car-key; 30 October 1743 - 3 January 1778) was a naturalist from Hangate of Sinja, Khas-Kirat Empire. Contemporary scholarship maintains that she was the first female naturalist working in the Khas-Kirat Empire. She was regarded as a respected naturalist by many prominent scientists such as: TBD scientists. Karki is most famous for The List of Vargas, in which she describes many fauna (even some flora) across the Isles, including ink drawings of over 600 different species.
Karki was born in Sinja City as the fifth child of an upper-class Khas family. She was educated at home and her father, a physician, provided her with naturalist training following the new classification system developed by Carl Linnaeus. The Karki clan owned a 3,000-acre estate (1,200 ha) surrounded by a forest and this stimulated the naturalist interests of young Lalita Karki.
Between 1770 and 1773, Karki (funded by her clan and the Hang of Sinja who was eager to find new islands to claim as his own) became a member of the Sinjali voyage around the Isles on board the ship Rapti. During the voyage, she compiled specimens and information on more than 600 species of animals and plants across the Isles; classifying them according to the system developed by Linnaeus. She developed a technique for making ink impressions of leaves and was also a skilled illustrator doing ink drawings of over 300 different animals. For many drawings she wrote additional zoological details; as well as their role in the local environment and the folklore associated with them. Most of this information came from indigenous people and Karki could speak (while not fluently) various Ipachi languages.
The List of Vargas
In 1775, Karki published her book The List of Vargas. While she included a few plant species, her book was mostly focused on various fauna across the Isles (and particularly those from the then Khas-Kirat Empire in particular).
She was also writing an untitled book focusing on the various flora she had documented during her voyage across the Isles. Unfortunately, it was never completed due to her untimely death in 1778.
Visitors to the Karki baha noted that she was an excellent cook specializing in traditional Khas-Kirati and various Ipachi cuisine.
In 1774, after returning from her voyage, Karki married a major in the Sinjali army. Just two years later, in 1776, she went back to the Karki baha with her newly-born son and daughter after being subjected to spousal abuse. In 1778, Karki died after her son had died earlier that year as well. The Karki clan blamed her early death on spousal abuse and the death of her infant son.
People across the Isles were not become aware of Karki's book until a century later later when Mary Gladys Perkins, President of the Almorean College of Naturalists in 1926, stated that another female naturalist before her had documented many species of the Isles.
The capital of Mesderina was named Karki's Landing in her honor. The Lalita Karki Memorial Park was established on 1957 by the government of the Western Magarati Federation.
The official List of Vargas by the governments of both the Western Magarati Federation and the Eastern Kirati Socialist Republic are named after her book and contain many species first described by her.