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.