Astha Chaudhary and Dipti Arora
Astha Chaudhary and Dipti Arora are working on documenting the human-sarus crane interactions in the Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh to contribute to developing effective strategies which are locally appropriate and help in understanding sarus as individual characters in the multispecies landscape.
Astha is a researcher who has been working on wildlife conservation through community involvement for seven years. Her main interests are to understand the different perspectives, roles and views on wildlife and nature through local lenses in the area. She also aims to write stories for children's nature education.
Dipti, an interdisciplinary field researcher, has been exploring and working with different socio-ecological movements around India. She aims to collect wisdom stories of human-human, human-non-human interactions from fields and narrate and perform those stories in urban public spaces to create a platform for dialogue, discussion and engagement.
Chandra Maya Sharma and Avantika Thapa
Chandra Maya Sharma and Avantika Thapa hail from Sikkim and Darjeeling, an area rich in culture knitted with stories of wild animals and their encounters with people. Growing up, they began to feel very deeply and compassionately for the wildlife. But as the years passed, they started to take notice of the mismatch between the stories their forefathers told and the events that were taking place around them. They also noticed a change in the attitude of peoples’ behaviour towards some species in a positive manner such as birds, and the increase in rage and hatred towards others such as wild boars. This drove them to document the factors, especially the human behaviour and their practices, that enable people and large animals to live in the shared landscape of Darjeeling and Sikkim.
Avantika Thapa is pursuing her Ph.D. and has studied the ecology of wildlife in the Himalayas. During her four years of field work she realised that humans are an integral part of any wild species’ ecology. So now she aims to undertake inclusive and inter-disciplinary research to understand and facilitate human wildlife coexistence.
Chandra Maya Sharma is a research scholar who has worked as a wildlife researcher for the past seven years in the field of conservation and monitoring of mammals and human-wildlife interaction in the Indian Himalayan region. She has a strong interest in biodiversity and wildlife conservation involving the local community, human-wildlife interaction, and their coexistence in the Himalayan region.
Raja Rabbi Hussain and Amir Khan
In an era of global warming and environmental degradation, Amir Khan and Raja Rabi Hussain believe forest dwelling and dependent communities are key for forest conservation. Therefore, they would like to focus on these communities' traditional ecological knowledge and look at the relationship the Tiwa community in Morigoan district of Assam’s Pobitara Wildlife Sanctuary have with insects.
Historically, women in forest dweller communities would collect insects with their children and tell them tales while the men roamed in the forest. Through this process one generation of forest dweller communities would pass information to another. Amir and Raja will make an effort to document the Tiwa peoples' knowledge about forest by understanding their entomophagy practices.
Amir and Raja are associated with All India Union of Forest Working People, and have pursued their M.A. from the Nelson Mendala Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution. Raja has previously worked on gender, engaging men for gender justice programmes and exploring sexualities, while Amir was associated with organisations implementing the Panchayati Raj system in India and strengthening gram sabhas.
Sunil Harsana and Nitesh Kaushik
Sunil Harsana is a homegrown conservationist from Mangar Bani who has spent over a decade of his life preserving the floral and faunal diversity in the National Capital Region (NCR)-Aravallis region, the last remaining natural forest of this landscape. He has also worked extensively to spread awareness among the Mangar Bani community and, during his work, has unearthed evidence of a pre-historic civilisation in the NCR-Aravallis area.
Nitesh Kaushik is a conservationist who completed her Master's in Biodiversity and Conservation from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University. She has previously contributed to a baseline study of flora to establish the Damdama Biodiversity Park, in Haryana, by documenting the diversity of plants and communities' traditional knowledge and use of various species. Her main interests lie in understanding the relationship between humans and nature.
Sunil and Nitesh are working in the Aravallis of south Haryana, an important leopard corridor, between the Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary, in Rajasthan, and the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, in Delhi. Their project focuses on understanding leopard ecology and enhancing human-leopard coexistence in the area.
Amir Chhetri and Priyanka Das
Amir Kumar hails from a forest village in northern West Bengal, and his indigenous knowledge on the biodiversity of the landscape and skills in community engagement is unparalleled. From a young age, Amir has worked with the Forest Department and as a safari guide for tourists. 2014 onwards, he has also worked with a range of research and conservation projects. On the other hand, Priyanka Das is trained in ecology and conservation science and have completed her M.Sc. from Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore. Besides working for various short-term projects in different capacities across India, she has been associated with the project landscape since 2016.
Amir and Priyanka have worked together for other researchers, on Priyanka’s M.Sc. dissertation and more recently with Sanctuary Nature Foundation’s Mud on Boots project. Their present project addresses the underlying drivers of human-elephant negative interaction in northern West Bengal by providing technical assistance to the local forest department and monitoring ecological restoration in the degraded forest patches to ensure availability of forage species for elephants; conducting social surveys to understand dependence of local communities on forest; and undertaking dialogue and awareness in the tea estates and revenue villages to reduce dependence on the forests.
Rigzen Dorjay and Sherab Lobzang
Rigzen Dorjay is from a small village in Ladakh called Saspochey. Driven to explore an alternative career, he joined the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) in 2014 as a six-month volunteer helping Ph.D. students with their field work. During this time, he learnt about wildlife conservation and the expanse of Ladakh’s biodiversity. He has been with NCF for over eight years and has learnt how to have meaningful engagements with communities and conduct field surveys across the terrain.
Sherab Lobzang is from Kumdok village in Leh, situated in the eastern part of Ladakh, near China's border. She did her post-graduation from Jammu University in political science, but was attached to wildlife since her childhood since her family is engaged in farming. She now works with NCF and is interested in community-based conservation, and she thinks wildlife conservation is essential to regulate wildlife populations, help balance the ecosystem, and maintain the natural beauty for future generations. Her role at NCF involves working with different communities, school children and conducting field surveys. She enjoys sharing conversations with elder people of villages and collecting stories about their day-to-day life, wildlife and historical places.
Pasture degradation due to climate change has resulted in increased competition between livestock and wildlife. Dorjay and Lobzang are now working on a project to facilitate herder and wildlife coexistence by reviving a traditional practice.