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.