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.
Aditi Patil | Political Economy Analyst - Illegal Wildlife Trade - Counter Wildlife Trafficking
Aditi has been working with WCS's CWT program since December 2019. She has a Post Graduate Diploma in Management - Development Studies from the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Ahmedabad. Her interest lies in understanding and identifying drivers of illegal wildlife trade that takes place at India's north-eastern borders. Aditi likes writing and has authored a mix-genre, non-fiction book called ‘Patriarchy and the Pangolin’. She's keen to collaborate with interdisciplinary researchers and explore opportunities to curb illegal wildlife trade through community-based conservation.
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.
Monali | Project Leader - Lesser Florican
Monali has been associated with the Lesser Florican Program at WCS-India since November 2020. She completed her Masters in Biodiversity from Pune University in 2008 and has worked on several projects dealing with ecology including plants, birds, butterflies. Previously, she worked closely with the local tribal communities from the Western Ghats and the Eastern Himalayas. This experience along with her academic training has helped her to understand and formulate holistic interdisciplinary approaches to better understand social-ecological systems. More.
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 Program
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.
Saloni Bhatia | Programme Associate - Human Dimensions
Saloni is a conservation anthropologist with an interest in understanding the interface between people and wild animals. She is keen to understand and find ways to enhance coexistence between people and wildlife. Saloni is also interested in delving into conservation technology, evaluating conservation efficacy, and examining how human culture can be better integrated with conservation. She loves working at the intersection of science and practice and strongly believes in interdisciplinary approaches. She has been a Postdoctoral Fellow at IIT-Bombay's Centre for Technological Alternatives for Rural Areas. She did her doctoral research in the high Himalayan Mountains of Ladakh with the Snow Leopard Trust and the Nature Conservation Foundation. More.
Sourabha Rao | Media & Outreach Manager – Communications Team
Sourabha is a bilingual writer, poet, translator and freelance columnist with literary proficiency in English and Kannada. She deeply cares about producing stories on nature, wildlife, social issues and art in both languages, in an earnest attempt to create content that both educates and entertains, has impact and mobilises positive change. Writing, to her, is a spiritual process – of kneading thoughts into words. Having spent most of her childhood in a village in Karnataka where human-wildlife interaction often leads to conflict, Sourabha is keen on documenting these stories, hoping to capture their overwhelming variables existing in different parts of the state.
Tanvi Kakodkar | Project Assistant – Program Management Team
Tanvi has been associated with WCS-India since October 2020 working with the program management team. She holds a Masters in Economics from the University of Mumbai. She has a diverse experience of working with communities living in forest fringe villages, addressing their livelihood challenges to reduce their dependence on forests and bring about peaceful coexistence of the vulnerable communities with wildlife. Passionate about developing community-based interventions, Tanvi is always looking for ways to decode the impact socio-economic factors have on conservation.
Vanishree Naik | Research Assistant – Human-Wildlife Interactions programme
Vanishree has been working with WCS-India in the Human Wildlife Interactions programme since November 2020 first as a research intern and now as an assistant. After completing her Bachelors in Zoology, her interest in gaining more experience in human-wildlife interactions and their impact on conservation action drew her towards Mumbai’s leopard project. The project is one of a kind where urban residents, tribals, slums as well as government bodies all interact with the city’s leopards. Vanishree has also worked with other organizations in the past mainly for conservation and environmental awareness to strengthen human-nature relationships.
We are happy to collaborate with researchers, artists, media, citizens - in short, anyone who is interested in contributing towards furthering our vision. Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org to partner with us!