The Human Dimensions Network endeavours to create space and build capacity for social science research and community-inclusive conservation within WCS-India.
India is at the cusp of socio-cultural and economic transformations which impact the way we interact with nature/wildlife. We are a country with innumerable examples of existing relationships between people and wildlife that are poorly understood, even today. Our team seeks to better understand the nuances of these interactions and support WCS-India’s ongoing engagement with local communities. We hope that our research and conservation contributions can secure the future of wildlife whilst enabling communities to take pride in their natural and cultural heritage.
Avik Banerjee | Project Associate – Marine Programme
Avik works as a Project Associate in the Marine Program at WCS-India. Since joining the organisation in 2019, he has helped the marine team fulfil objectives towards strengthening the country's Marine Protected Areas and mitigating megafaunal bycatch. With an M.Sc. in Wildlife Biology and Conservation, Avik has helped provide technical input towards different components of the marine program. In the past, Avik has worked on research on several marine species- from dolphins and turtles to octopuses. His primary interests lie in understanding the interactions between marine mammals and fisheries and helping reduce the emergent concerns to wild species and fishing communities. He aims to incorporate relevant aspects of the social sciences into this work. More.
Deepika Sharma | Project Assistant - Marine Programme
Deepika has been working at WCS-India since 2020. She holds an MA in Environment and Development from Ambedkar University Delhi, which sparked her interest in nature-human interactions. In 2018, she steered her skills and interests to understand management policies and stakeholder engagement in the Marine Protected Areas of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. She has also carried out assessments to address challenges of scaling up tourism in the islands. In her current projects, she works towards implementing collaborative marine conservation initiatives. More.
Dhee | Social Science Research Consultant - Human Dimensions
Dhee provides consultancy in designing and conducting social science research at WCS-India. She is a researcher interested in the human dimensions of wildlife conservation, specifically the psychological and socio-cultural factors that shape people's perceptions towards wild animals. Dhee has an MSc. in Conservation Biology from School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent and a BA in Psychology from Ambedkar University, Delhi. She is curious about human-wildlife entanglements and how they shape and get shaped by stories, social institutions, cultures and histories. Apart from this, she has a keen interest in theatre and philosophy. More.
Gargi Sharma | Deputy Programme Manager - Counter Wildlife Trafficking
Gargi has been associated with WCS-India since November 2019 and assists the Counter Wildlife Trafficking team with grant management, leading capacity building activities and strategizing interventions within the program. She holds an MSc in Environment, Politics and Society from University College London. She has a keen interest in the intersection of politics, history and conservation, and using the same to contextualise landscapes and interventions. Gargi is also interested in developing monitoring and evaluation strategies for programs. She also dabbles every now and then in nature poetry.
Mrunal Ghosalkar | Conservation Assistant – Great Indian Bustard programme
Mrunal is a Conservation Assistant with WCS-India’s Great Indian Bustard programme in Rajasthan. She has previously worked with various organizations dealing with community engagement. She was a part of Ovitla Landga project with Maharashtra Forest Department, where she worked with the Dhangar community – one of the largest pastoral communities in India – to understand conflicts over fodder and resources in Mayureshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. She has been a part of the Janata Waghoba program in collaboration with WCS-India, Maharashtra Forest Department and Rufford Foundation, for stakeholder engagement to mitigate negative human-leopard interactions in the rural landscapes of Maharashtra. She has also worked with the Centre for Wildlife Studies as a Project Coordinator for the Wild Shaale program focusing on conservation education. She is a National Geographic certified educator and has a keen interest in community awareness and engagement. More.
Nikit Surve | Research Associate – Human-Wildlife Interactions Programme
Nikit has been working with WCS-India in the Human Wildlife Interactions Program since October 2015. He completed MSc. in Wildlife Science from Wildlife Institute of India. Nikit has volunteered with several projects aimed at understanding negative human-wildlife interactions with respect to crop damage and livestock depredation by large carnivores. At WCS India, he is associated with a project in Mumbai, Maharashtra which has a unique Protected Area situated in the heart of a megapolis. At this study site a high density of leopards regularly interact with people at the edge of the Protected Area. The project aims at understanding the dynamic relationship between leopards and humans in this urban landscape. Nikit is keen to collaborating with other like-minded researchers for interdisciplinary research work to be carried out in this landscape. His aim is to further strengthen the understanding we have of the relationship between these two most adaptable species. More.
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