Scientist, High Altitudes
Ph.D. Ecology and Conservation, NCF & Manipal University
M.Sc. Wildlife Biology and Conservation, NCBS & WCS-India
B.Sc. Zoology, Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad
I aim to work towards wildlife conservation through robust applied scientific research informing management and policy. My work, so far, has focused on the understanding and conservation of the alpine and high-altitude regions of the Himalaya and other Central Asian mountains. My Doctoral thesis focuses on identifying the causes of livestock predation by snow leopards and finding ways to minimize it through management of wild herbivore and livestock populations. I also examined the perceptions and attitudes of local herders to find ways of minimizing the persecution of the snow leopard. I used population ecology to develop an understanding of the interactions between large carnivores, their wild ungulate prey and livestock.
Response of red fox to village expansion
How does red fox respond to increasing village size in the Trans-Himalaya?
- Book ChapterIn pressConflicts over snow leopard conservation and livestock productionConservation Conflicts, Redpath S, Young J, Gutierrez R, Wood K (eds.), Cambridge University Press.
- Journal Article2019Breeding Ecology of the Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala in a managed urban wetlandIndian Birds, Vol 15, No. 2Download
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Urbanisation is an important driver of global change. There is relatively little information on how urbanisation is impacting wetland birds in India. We studied the nesting of Painted Storks Mycteria leucocephala at Jakkur Lake in Bengaluru to document the seasonality and breeding success in an urban wetland in southern India. We recorded the total number of nests and chicks in the colony during the entire nesting season from January to May 2017. A total of 66 nests were recorded and they fledged a total of 137 chicks. Of 50 nests that were monitored closely, 10% were abandoned. The mean number of chick per nest was 2.36 (SD = 0.62) and ranged between two and four chicks per nest. We used abundance data from eBird and show that Painted Stork nesting at Jakkur Lake probably started as recently as 2017. We demonstrate that using a combination of primary observation and eBird data can provide valuable insights in to the nesting ecology of large waterbirds in urban areas.
- Journal Article2019Sampling bias in snow leopard population estimation studiesPopulation Ecology 10.1002/1438-390X.1027Download
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Accurate assessments of the status of threatened species and their conservation planning require reliable estimation of their global populations and robust monitoring of local population trends. We assessed the adequacy and suitability of studies in reliably estimating the global snow leopard (Panthera uncia) population. We compiled a dataset of all the peer-reviewed published literature on snow leopard population estimation. Metadata analysis showed estimates of snow leopard density to be a negative exponential function of area, suggesting that study areas have generally been too small for accurate density estimation, and sampling has often been biased towards the best habitats. Published studies are restricted to six of the 12 range countries, covering only 0.3–0.9% of the presumed global range of the species. Re-sampling of camera trap data from a relatively large study site (c.1684 km2) showed that small-sized study areas together with a bias towards good quality habitats in existing studies may have overestimated densities by up to five times. We conclude that current information is biased and inadequate for generating a reliable global population estimate of snow leopards. To develop a rigorous and useful baseline and to avoid pitfalls, there is an urgent need for (a) refinement of sampling and analytical protocols for population estimation of snow leopards (b) agreement and coordinated use of standardized sampling protocols amongst researchers and governments across the range, and (c) sampling larger and under-represented areas of the snow leopard's global range.
- Journal Article2019Distribution and activity pattern of stone marten Martes foina in relation to prey and predatorsMammalian Biology; Volume 96, May 2019, Pages 110-117Download
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Small carnivores are expected to optimize their activity to maximize prey capture and minimize their encounter with predators. We assessed the activity pattern of the stone marten
Martes foinain relation to its potential prey, the Himalayan woolly hare Lepus oiostolus and the Royle’s pika Ochotona roylei, and its predators, the red fox Vulpes vulpesand the free-ranging dog Canis familiaris. Using three years of camera trapping data from the Indian Trans-Himalaya, we estimated individual and pair-wise spatio-temporal niche width and overlap, respectively, using Levins’ asymmetric index. Stone martens showed limited space use (spatial niche width 0.16) and nocturnal activity (temporal niche width 0.35). They had high temporal (0.75) and low spatial overlap (0.05) with hares; while they had relatively low temporal (0.33) but higher spatial overlap (0.29) with pikas. Red foxes showed relatively high temporal (1.21) and spatial (0.75) overlap with martens, while free-ranging dogs showed low temporal (0.23) and spatial (0.03) overlap with martens. Although restricted space and time use by pikas might help martens track pikas even with relatively low spatio-temporal overlap, martens may be benefiting from higher temporal overlap with hares. While martens seem to be co-existing with foxes, their nocturnal activity might be driven by a trade-off between consuming prey and avoidance of diurnal predators like dogs.
- Report2018Population assessment of the Nilgiri tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius) using the Double-observer Survey method in the Anamalai Tiger ReserveTechnical Report, Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore, India
- Book Chapter2018Living with Snow Leopards: a pluralistic approach to conservationIn Conservation from the Margins. (Eds) Umesh Srinivasan & Nandini Velho. Orient Blackswan
- Journal Article2018Local community neutralizes traditional wolf traps and builds a stupaOryx
- Book Chapter2018Large Carnivore and Conservation and Management
- Dataset2017Data from: Impact of wild prey availability on livestock predation by snow leopardsData Dryad: doi:10.5061/dryad.8p689
- Journal Article2017Impact of wild prey availability on livestock predation by snow leopards.Royal Society Open Science, 4(6), 170026.Download
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An increasing proportion of the world's poor is rearing livestock today, and the global livestock population is growing. Livestock predation by large carnivores and their retaliatory killing is becoming an economic and conservation concern. A common recommendation for carnivore conservation and for reducing predation on livestock is to increase wild prey populations based on the assumption that the carnivores will consume this alternative food. Livestock predation, however, could either reduce or intensify with increases in wild prey depending on prey choice and trends in carnivore abundance. We show that the extent of livestock predation by the endangered snow leopard Panthera uncia intensifies with increases in the density of wild ungulate prey, and subsequently stabilizes. We found that snow leopard density, estimated at seven sites, was a positive linear function of the density of wild ungulates—the preferred prey—and showed no discernible relationship with livestock density. We also found that modelled livestock predation increased with livestock density. Our results suggest that snow leopard conservation would benefit from an increase in wild ungulates, but that would intensify the problem of livestock predation for pastoralists. The potential benefits of increased wild prey abundance in reducing livestock predation can be overwhelmed by a resultant increase in snow leopard populations. Snow leopard conservation efforts aimed at facilitating increases in wild prey must be accompanied by greater assistance for better livestock protection and offsetting the economic damage caused by carnivores.