Dr Vidya Athreya
Director and Head - Science and Conservation
Vidya initially joined WCS-India in 2013. She obtained her MS in Ecology from Pondicherry in 1993 and a MSc in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Iowa, USA in 2000. Dr. Athreya obtained her doctorate from Manipal University in 2012 for her thesis, ‘Conflict resolution and leopard conservation in a human dominated landscape’. Based in Pune, Vidya has been studying human-leopard conflict in Maharashtra for the past decade. She also works closely with Protected Area managers and the public to mitigate conflicts involving big cats.
Vidya has been working in landscapes of Western Maharashtra where leopards share spaces with humans. A member of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group, she has assisted in formulating state and national level policy guidelines on managing human-leopard conflict. Vidya’s research work has led to an increased awareness of large carnivores outside Protected Areas in India. Vidya was awarded the Carl Zeiss Wildlife Conservation Award in 2011, TN Koshoo Memorial Award in 2012 and the Maharana Udai Singh Award in 2013.To know more about her work, please visit: www.projectwaghoba.in and www.mumbaikarsforsgnp.com
He has been with WCS-India since 2015 and has been conducting research on human-leopard interactions in Mumbai.
Wildlife Conservation Society-India, supported by Titli Trust, has supported the Uttarakhand Forest Department (UKFD) in assessing and addressing leopard and human conflict in the time period 2013-2019. Sanjay Sondhi from Titli Trust has been our main partner in this effort. In the initial phase of the project, 2013-2015, we assessed the leopard conflict in Uttarakhand through desk research and a social survey of stakeholders impacted by the conflict-local community, forest department and others. Based on consultations with the UKFD, from 2017-2019, we implemented our recommendation in the form of two pilots in Tehri and Pauri. The pilots involved exposure visits, equipping and capacity building rapid response teams of the UKFD by conducting awareness and sensitisation programs amongst forest department, local community, children, media and police. The primary project objective of reducing human-leopard conflict by becoming proactive instead of reactive yielded positive results in Tehri, with a significant reduction in HWC. The key lesson learnt was that a collaborative effort by all stakeholders, focused on problem resolution, backed by buy-in from all levels of the forest department, can result in a reduced HWC on the ground. We are now trying to work on a key challenge - to institutionalize these mechanisms across the state.
Vanishree is a BSc graduate (Zoology) from Mumbai, currently working as a research assistant for the Mumbai Waghoba project after having interned for the same project at WCS-India. Her journey to wildlife and conservation began with mere curiosity as an 'animal lover' and has now grown to be a full-time career. Her main interests lie in animal behaviour and carnivore conservation ecology.