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
Daniel has completed his MSc (Biodiversity, Wildlife Conservation and Management) from Mumbai in 2020. He is currently working as a research assistant for the Mumbai Leopard Project, WCSI. He has been working in the field of wildlife biology and conservation since 2017 for multiple projects and surveys in quite a few states across the country. His main interests include Ethology, Ornithology and Herpetology.
Idris Mohammad Ahmed
Idris has completed his MSc (Biodiversity, Wildlife Conservation and Management) from Mumbai, India. Over the years, he has volunteered for various projects focusing on mammal and avian ecology, as well as human wildlife interactions. After having volunteered for the Mumbai leopard project in 2017, he joined this project as a Research Assistant in 2021. His key interests are avian and mammal ecology, human wildlife interactions, and prey predator interactions.
Nikit has been working with WCS-India in the Human Wildlife Interactions Program since October 2015. He has completed M.Sc. in Wildlife Science from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. At WCS India, he is associated with the Mumbai leopard project in Maharashtra. At this study site a high density of leopards regularly interact with people at the edge of an urban Protected Area. The project aims at understanding the dynamic relationship between leopards and humans in this urban landscape. Nikit is keen on collaborating with other like-minded researchers for interdisciplinary research work to be carried out in this landscape. In the past Nikit has actively been involved in various awareness campaigns and workshops for stakeholders associated with this research topic of human - wildlife interactions. His aim is to further strengthen the understanding we have of the relationship between these two most adaptable species. Reading and writing contribute towards his hobbies but when not working he likes to talk, walk and eat.
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.