Scientist, High Altitudes
I did my Masters in Physics from the University of Bhopal. It was during this period that I also conducted a small study on the avian fauna of Bhopal, and developed my first stand-alone software to help identify birds. This led to my association with BNHS where I later joined as a Research Analyst. I carried out field research for four years in Panna National Park on Ecology, Distribution and Behaviour of Four-horned antelope and obtained my PhD from the Mumbai University.
My academic interests lie in quantitative ecology, population ecology, conservation biology, and ecological and GIS modeling. Study designs, data analyses, developing application algorithm for specific, and training are my inclinations in addition to conducting field work in remote locations.Apart from conducting field research and helping several research projects, I have delivered several lectures and interactive talks on wildlife and environment related issues. I have conducted several training workshops for capacity building of field workers, researchers and officers in various countries.
I now work with the Snow Leopard Trust (SLT) as Regional Field Biologist, my main responsibilities are to help research planning, conduct training and field work, and help analyze research data in the various range country programs of SLT. I have recently worked with colleagues on developing protocols for monitoring snow leopards and its prey populations in Ladakh and Mongolia using detection/non-detection surveys.
- Popular Article2016A four-horned flash of goldThe Hindu in School, 6 January
- Journal Article2015Status assessment of snow leopard and other large mammals in the Kyrgyz Alay using community knowledge corrected for imperfect detectionOryx
- Journal Article2014Tiger poaching and trafficking in India: estimating rates of occurrence and detection over four decadesBiological Conservation, doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2014.08.016
Poaching, prey depletion and habitat destruction have decimated the world’s wild tiger population to fewer than 3200–4000. Despite focused efforts, poaching continues to be the key threat to tiger populations in India, home to more than half of the world’s tigers. A rise in the number of incidences of tiger poaching and trafficking may not essentially represent an increase in the actual occurrence of tiger poaching and trafficking, but can instead be an indication of better enforcement. With ad hoc detection rates, it becomes difficult to estimate the true quantum of poaching and the efficiency of enforcement. We empirically estimate the probability of occurrence of tiger crime and that of detecting it during periods of 3–7 years in the past 40 years in the 605 districts of India. We test the hypotheses that tiger crime is influenced by the presence of tiger trade hubs, proximity to a number of tiger habitats, and that tiger poachers prefer to use rail routes over road highways. The annual probability of detecting tiger crime was estimated to be highest (0.46, 95% CI = 0.38–0.54) in the period between 1993 and 1995. Our results identify 73 districts as current tiger crime hotspots with high (>0.5) probability of occurrence of tiger crime. We propose that the probability of occurrence of tiger crime can be a more reliable estimator of changing poaching pressures and that probability of detecting tiger crime provides a robust estimate of the efficiency in tackling tiger poaching and trafficking.
- Journal Article2014Vigorous Dynamics Underlie a Stable Population of the Endangered Snow Leopard Panthera uncia in Tost Mountains, South Gobi, MongoliaPLoS One. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0101319
- Journal Article2014Vigorous dynamics underlie a stable population of the endangered snow leopard Panthera uncia in Tost Mountains, South Gobi, Mongolia 12Plos ONE 9(7): e101319. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101319
Population monitoring programmes and estimation of vital rates are key to understanding the mechanisms of population growth, decline or stability, and are important for effective conservation action. We report, for the first time, the population trends and vital rates of the endangered snow leopard based on camera trapping over four years in the Tost Mountains, South Gobi, Mongolia. We used robust design multi-season mark-recapture analysis to estimate the trends in abundance, sex ratio, survival probability and the probability of temporary emigration and immigration for adult and young snow leopards. The snow leopard population remained constant over most of the study period, with no apparent growth (l = 1.08+20.25). Comparison of model results with the ‘‘known population’’ of radio-collared snow leopards suggested high accuracy in our estimates. Although seemingly stable, vigorous underlying dynamics were evident in this population, with the adult sex ratio shifting from being male-biased to female-biased (1.67 to 0.38 males per female) during the study. Adult survival probability was 0.82 (SE+20.08) and that of young was 0.83 (SE+20.15) and 0.77 (SE +20.2) respectively, before and after the age of 2 years. Young snow leopards showed a high probability of temporary emigration and immigration (0.6, SE +20.19 and 0.68, SE +20.32 before and after the age of 2 years) though not the adults (0.02 SE+20.07). While the current female-bias in the population and the number of cubs born each year seemingly render the study population safe, the vigorous dynamics suggests that the situation can change quickly. The reduction in the proportion of male snow leopards may be indicative of continuing anthropogenic pressures. Our work reiterates the importance of monitoring both the abundance and population dynamics of species for effective conservation.
- Journal Article2014Vigorous dynamics underlie a stable population of the endangered snow leopard Panthera uncia in Tost Mountains, South Gobi, MongoliaPLoS ONE 9(7): e101319. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0101319
- Journal Article2013Understanding the patchy distribution of four-horned antelope Tetracerus quadricornis in a tropical dry deciduous forest in Central IndiaJournal of Tropical Ecology, 1-10. doi:10.1017/S0266467413000722
At the landscape level, the four-horned antelope is confined to tropical dry deciduous forests and within these, their distribution is patchy. Various factors have been proposed as determinants for their patchy distribution within landscapes, but none provided an adequate explanation. We hypothesized that availability of a constant supply of forage influenced the species distribution.We found that the four-horned antelope mainly fed on fruits and flowers, and that a total of 60% of the tree species in Panna Tiger Reserve bore fruits at different times of the year. High tree species richness in habitat patches was considered a surrogate for constant supply of forage for the four-horned antelope. Data from 547 sighting locations between 2002 and 2006 and six spatial layers were analysed using maximum entropy to produce a probability distribution model for the four-horned antelope in Panna Tiger Reserve. Our model predicted that habitat patches summing up to only 9.5% of the 543 km2 of Panna Tiger Reserve had high probability of distribution (>0.5) of four-horned antelope. Although all variables contributed to the distribution model of the four-horned antelope, explanatory power was highest for tree species richness within habitat patches. The distribution of four-horned antelope within tropical dry deciduous forests can be treated as an indicator of high tree diversity and hence habitat quality.
- Journal Article2013Large carnivores and low diversity of optimal prey: a comparison of the diets of snow leopards Panthera uncia and wolves Canis lupus in Sarychat-Ertash Reserve in KyrgyzstanOryx DOI:10.1017/S0030605313000306