Fellows

 
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Aakanksha Komanduri

 

I have been deeply drawn to wildlife since as far back as I can remember, and have spent most of my life’s time in some way engaging with animals including insects, birds, frogs, bigger domestic and wild animals. One of my childhood dreams of getting to know, being close to snakes came true when I joined Friends of Snakes in 2017. Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of my time rescuing and rehabilitating hundreds of snakes in Telangana. I have also regularly given lectures about the conservation of snakes and led snake awareness sessions for schools, corporates and national parks in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. As a volunteer with the Forest Department of Telangana, I worked in wildlife censuses across various national reserves and sanctuaries. This year, 2021, I received my post-graduation in Animal Protection Law from NALSAR. Other than that, I spent lockdown time mostly rescuing and looking after urban wildlife. While I have an awe for large creatures of the forest, I am equally interested in the worlds of smaller beings such as termites, spiders and ants. I feel great wonder about their complex and intricate lives, and their phenomenal role in the vast interdependent forest life. In the coming years, I hope to get opportunities to explore marine wildlife more closely, do some wildlife photography, and at some point, go herping in the Indonesian islands

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Ashrita Anoop

 

Growing up in the Western Ghats, I was always fascinated by the marvels of nature. I graduated with a masters in Environment Science. During my work as research associate, I was involved in leopard research and conservation project in Southern Karnataka at Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) under the Western Ghats programme which gave me more insight into wildlife research.  My keen interest is in wildlife ecology, wildlife conservation, riparian ecology and the factors influencing community’s perceptions towards protected areas. Now, I manage the community-based conservation work in the beautiful landscape of MM Hills and Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuaries of Southern Karnataka. It is a programme which aims in the recovery of wildlife and wild spaces in through direct community-based interventions geared to help both people and wildlife.  My greatest joys are birding, documenting biodiversity, trekking, reading biographies, collecting old coins, and also spending time with family and friends.

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Arpan Joshi

 

Hello , I am Arpan Joshi a B.com graduate . I  have been passionate about wildlife since childhood.  And fortunately I got to explore this field of wildlife since I was 18 . Initially I was a bird watcher then I started rescuing non-venomous Snakes then started working on vultures and then got a golden opportunity to work with Rajasthan Forest Department where I released a Leopard with them as my first task. Then I started my journey with bats where I captured them , did research in Rajasthan , Tamil Nadu and Gujrat about them. Since the very beginning of this journey of mine I have been trying to educate local people about difference between venomous and non-venomous snakes and about how harmless Bats are and have been trying to play my role in wildlife conservation. Recently I worked with Bishnoi community in Jaisalmer , Rajasthan on Chinkara and Great Indian bustard. Along with this I am a percussionist and a music teacher  too and I also love to go for trekking and hiking and I love to do wildlife photography as well.

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Dhanush CS

 

I’m Dhanush Shetty, I’ve done my bachelors in Agricultural biotechnology and a masters in Wildlife & management. During my masters, I have worked on Elephants of the coffee land: “Human elephant conflict in coffee-based agroforestry systems of Chikmagalur, Western Ghats, India”  Being born in the southern western ghats and raised in the Deccan plateau, I've always been curious to know about the mysteries that nature has in its womb. I have always been inspired by and love to work with people who strive to preserve endangered species ranging from mini mammals (Gerbils) to mega mammals (Elephants). I have my interest in conservation anthropology, creative conservation, geospatial ecology, molecular ecology, behavioural ecology, science communication, nature education and #Tech4Wildlife.  I enjoy birding, herping, origami, and exploring and understanding more about the ancient stone inscriptions. I love coffee, carnatic music, mythological stories, and comics. I collect commemorative coins and postage stamps. I create illustrations, microblogs, code, and map in my spare time. To know more visit dhanushshetty.com.

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Nilesh Murmu

 

Young nature enthusiast with a master's degree in environmental science, interested in nature and wildlife conservation. I am driven by my love for the aesthetic and emotional value that nature provides and a strong belief in harmonious coexistence between human and wildlife. I am also keen on learning how to utilise remote sensing practices to help conserve ecosystems and wildlife.Besides this, my passion is playing and creating music. I have been playing drums since the age of 15 and am currently indulged in guitars.

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Shweta Madgulkar

 

I have lived most of my life in an urban space where life is very fast-paced. But luckily my parents are avid travellers and vacations meant a trip to some of the most beautiful places in India. All these trips exposed me to different people, different cultures and different landscapes which kindled a curiosity for the myriad connections people have with everything living and non-living around them. But when I was younger, I wasn’t aware of the scope of fields such as anthropology and wildlife conservation. It’s only during my Masters’ I learnt about how vast and complex this field is. Through the course period I became interested in learning about the relationship people share with wild animals. I explored the concepts of conflict and coexistence through understanding people’s perceptions of elephants and their interactions with the giant mammal for my Masters’ dissertation project. Armed with a Master’s degree I went on to work with The Shola Trust and later Wildlife Conservation Society-India to further explore how people and wild animals adapt to exist together and the impact of such co-occurrence.  When I am not working, I am trying to catch up on my favourite shows or re-reading stories by Ruskin Bond with some comfort food. I have a new found interest in stitching and embroidery now, which I would like to use for expressing conservation ideas.

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Supriya Samanta

 

I am Supriya Samanta, a postgraduate in Zoology from Sidho-Kanho-Birsha University, Purulia, West Bengal. I want to study the effect of climate change on various organisms. Currently I am volunteering with the Purulia Forest Department in the Ajodhya Hills to conserve this vast landscape through baseline data collection and scientific research. Some Facebook friends including me from Purulia and Bankura district of West Bengal have formed a group called ‘Green Plateau’ for conservation of biodiversity of plateau region of West Bengal. We are trying to create public awareness through a social media campaign ‘Save Ajodhya Hills’ involving every stakeholder to save this landscape with its faunal, floral, traditional diversity. Apart from this I love to travel, meet people, know their life stories and taste local food.

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Trisa Bhattacharjee

 

Hey I'm Trisa Bhattacharjee an MSc Ecology student from Pondicherry University. I'm a wildlife enthusiast and I like studying human perceptions. I like spending my time with forest and other indigenous communities. Making Coexistence models and a database enlisting human perceptions is my ultimate aim in life. I like to study big mammals and am much scared of reptiles and amphibians. I want to someday study about the Jarawa community or the Bishnoi community and be with them. Other than this I like to debate, paint, cooking, stitching, baking and dancing. I am a National level Dancer and a State Level Debater. I can speak Hindi, Bengali, English and German. I am a socializer. Also I enjoy reading romantic and thriller novels and watching drama series.

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Usha Ravindra

I am just another Harry Potter who though lived in a world of wizardry was unaware of its existence for beginning part of his life. But once he got to know about it, he was a big time fan and protector of magic. Though I lived with wildlife and am part of nature, it took me these many years to notice this world, a world of wonders, a world where common sense can lose its meaning on a lot number of occasions, a world that can freshen one’s mind with ranges of vivid blues and greens.  Now, I am on my journey to explore wildlife and am yet to find out how I can contribute in conserving them through research. Understanding nature of light, how a variety of animals perceive light, (social system, foraging, migratory etc) behaviours of animals, evolution etc. are some of my keen interests.  One day I would like to have my own forest, nurture it and perhaps pass it on to other muggles who at heart are nature lovers. I also want to make my own wildlife comics that are humurously responsible and also create a problems book for physics, mathematical concepts where wildlife will be used as medium for all problem statements. In my spare time, I doodle, read novels, watch (japanese animes, documentaries, swaying motion of tree branches, skies), go for nature walks and many more, but one at a time.

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Vardhini Suresh

 

I am Vardhini Suresh. While doing my schooling in the Nilgiris I was surrounded by pristine landscapes, from lakes to forests. While I admired the beauty, I did not know and appreciate its true value until I moved to the city. While I was working at a corporate job, I realized that my true passion lies in the restoring the environment. After reading more about the current state of the environment I knew it was time for me to switch fields. I am new to this field of work. I am looking forward to learn about ecological restoration practices and about wildlife conservation.  I enjoy writing, sketching landscapes and reading. I also like spending time in nature in solitude.

Mentors

 
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Dr. Sanjay Molur, Course Director

 

Sanjay has been involved in conservation for close to three decades working on various aspects from theory to practical application.  He is a global expert on conservation assessments and planning.  He has assessed over 10,000 taxa from India, southern Asia, southeastern Asia, Africa, and South America across several taxonomic groups. Sanjay adores biodiversity with no particular affiliation to species groups, although when pushed he indicates groups he has worked on in the field — amphibians, tarantulas, rodents, bats, primates, macro fungi, and aquatic plants — as good indicators.  He is passionate to work on species that require the most attention, least studied, most persecuted, and considered less charismatic. He is the Chief Editor of the monthly, international, open access, peer-reviewed, Journal of Threatened Taxa.  He represents several SSC IUCN specialist groups and represents international boards such as the Alliance for Zero Extinction and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund. The RHATC course is his brainchild base on his own experience and development from a similar training he received as an early career conservationist in the early 1990s. 

Dr. Mewa Singh

 

Mewa Singh is an internationally acclaimed expert on ecology and animal behaviour with emphasis on non-human primates. His research has paved the way to better understand social behaviour, resource distribution strategies, ecology, demography and the impacts of habitat destruction on various threatened species. His work on the Slender Loris and the Lion-tailed Macaque brought international attention to these highly endangered but little-known species and has driven on-ground conservation action. His decades long career has seen him shine in the role of Dean at University of Mysore and is currently a Professor For Life at the University. He has mentored a generation of students, many of whom are pursuing studies of their own in the domain of animal behavior, ecology, and conservation biology. With several awards to his credit and with a vast knowledge in various fields of science Mewa is a treasure trove and a steady guiding hand for the students.

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Dr. Priya Davidar

 

Priya is a retired Professor of Ecology from Pondicherry University. She has a Ph.D. in Zoology from Bombay University under the guidance of Dr. Salim Ali, and a S.M. in public health from Harvard University. She was a Post Doctoral fellow and later a Senior fellow at the Smithsonian Institution, USA. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was a faculty at Pondicherry University from 1987 to 2017 where she taught conservation biology, plant animal interactions and ornithology. Her research focus has been mainly on plant ecology, biogeography and conservation. She has studied the large-scale distribution of species across latitudinal and climatic gradients in the Western Ghats in order to understand the role of climate and habitat in limiting species distributions. She has worked on the distribution of forest birds and butterflies in the Andaman island archipelago, and trees distributions in the Western Ghats. The major findings are that climate; particularly rainfall seasonality and elevation limit tree distributions, whereas many birds and butterflies are limited by availability of habitat. She has also worked on the reproductive biology of plant species in forest fragments around the Pondicherry region. Her recent work has been on landscape ecology and genetics of Asian Elephant populations in the Western Ghats. She is actively involved in practical conservation and advocacy through networks of conservation organizations.  

Dr. P.O. Nameer

 

Prof. P.O. Nameer, is Professor of Wildlife Science and Dean of College of Climate Change and Environmental Science, Kerala Agricultural University, Kerala, south India. He has done his B.Sc. in Forestry, M.Sc. in Ecology and Ph.D. in Ornithology. He has also undergone several national and international training on diverse topics such as Molecular Phylogeny, Conservation Biology, PHVA Facilitation Skills Training, Small mammal conservation, Captive Breeding and Reintroduction, Endangered Species management, Taxonomical studies on Small Mammals from the leading institutions across the globe.  He is a member of several national and international conservation organisations such as South Asian coordinator, in situ, for the Conservation Planning Specialist Group, IUCN; International trainer on Small Mammal field studies and conservation; Consultant to Govt. of Bangladesh on their project on “Encyclopedia of the Flora and Fauna of Bangladesh”, International Waterbird Census (IWC) Kerala State coordinator, since 1992; Member of the Kerala State Wildlife Board, Expert Member in the State Level Monitoring Committee of “Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act 2008”; Member of the State Wetland Authority of Kerala; Kerala State coordinator of “Indian Bird Conservation Network” since 2000 etc. 

Dr. Neelesh Dahanukar

 

Teaching elementary probability theory for terrified biologists, Neelesh is a brilliant scientist whose range of repertoire includes mathematical modeling of biological systems, evolution and systematics, evolutionary game theory, taxonomy of fishes, amphibians & scorpions, and ecological statistics. As key faculty in the RHATC course, his invaluable experience both in the lab and the field will provide the students a clear perspective on how to break down complex issues into palatable scientific conservation actions. To know more about him click here <https://sites.google.com/view/neeleshdahanukar/home>

Dr. Rajeev Raghavan

 

An aquatic conservation biologist, Rajeev is known for his unending dedication for his work on the freshwater fishes of South Asia. He is the South Asia Co-Chair of the IUCN’s Freshwater Fish Specialist Group and currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Fisheries Resource Management, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, Kochi, India. A prolific writer he has authored and published 170 papers and is ideally suited to guide young minds through the river of scientific writing. He has also discovered and described 21 new species, three genera (Aenigmachanna, Sahyadria, Waikhomia) and two enigmatic families (Krytoglanidae and Aenigmachannidae) of freshwater fish, and a unique new genus and species (Eurindicus bhugarbha) of blind subterranean shrimp.

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Nandini Velho

 

My work has focused on the human-dimensions of wildlife management as well as understanding rainforest dynamics in tropical forests. Concurrently, I have worked closely with local forest managers, policy makers and engaged with on-ground outreach activities, including healthcare and logistical support of front-line forest staff, conservation education and writing in the popular medium.

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Dr. A. Biju Kumar

 

Biju Kumar currently serves as Professor and Head of the Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala. Served as Dean, Faculty of
Science and Director of Research, University of Kerala; Scientific Officer of Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment, and Principal Scientific Officer and
Member Secretary (in-charge) of Kerala State Biodiversity Board. Dr Biju is a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival
Commission (SSC). Areas of research include taxonomy, invasion biology, biodiversity an ecology. Participated in committees on policy development related to the environment and biodiversity at the national and state level. Published more than 200 research papers, 25 books, and described 8 new genera and about 50 new species of aquatic organisms, and three species are named after Biju Kumar. Environmental educator and popular science writer.

Resource persons

 
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Dr. Topiltzin Contreras-MacBeath

 

Former Minister of Sustainable Development for the Government of the State of Morelos in Central Mexico. For the past 36 years he has been Professor of ichthyology and Conservation Biology at the Autonomous University of the State Morelos, in central Mexico, where he is head of the Conservation Biology work group. His main research interests are thus related to freshwater ecosystems and endangered fish species conservation. He is involved in many international organizations: he is a founder and Regional Coordinator for Mesoamerica of the IUCN/SSC Freshwater Fish Specialist Group; he is Co-Chair of the IUCN/SSC Freshwater Conservation Committee and serves as a member of the Steering Committee of the Species Survival Commission at IUCN. He is also representative for Latin America of the International Association of Protected Areas (IAPA) based in China.

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Rita Banerji

 

Founder and Project Director of the Green Hub Project (www.greenhubindia.net), Rita is one of the leading environment filmmakers in India and an Ashoka Fellow ttps://www.ashoka.org/en-in/fellow/rita-banerji). Her work is grounded in using visual communication as a tool for conservation-based storytelling. She has been  part of three Panda award winning films, including ‘The Wild Meat Trail’ in 2010, that kickstarted the outreach work in the northeast of india. She was awarded the National Geographic - CMS Prithvi Ratna award in 2017 and the Sanctuary Wildlife Service Award 2020, for her contribution to environment conservation through films.

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Aathira Perinchery

 

Aathira Perinchery is an independent science and environment journalist. A former wildlife biologist, she writes about wildlife, conservation and communities for several online and print media houses in India including The Hindu, Mongabay-India, The Wire, and more. You can view her portfolio at https://aathiraperinchery.contently.com/.

Dr. LAK Singh

 

Dr Lala Aswini Kumar Singh, PhD is an Indian zoologist and a life-long wildlife researcher. After Post-Graduation from Utkal University, over a span of 45 years Dr Singh has delivered volumes of research-based knowledge, technique and training materials, most of which are now available online, for improving conservation and management in projects for crocodiles, tiger and elephant. Besides, his studies on Chameleon, the Kalakuta gecko and fauna in higher canopy of forest in Odisha are pathbreaking stimuli for field zoologists. Dr Singh is a Member of the IUCN/SSC Conservation Planning Specialists Group for about 35 years. In 2013 he was honoured with the Odisha state award, the Biju Patnaik Prize for Wildlife Conservation.

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Cara Tejpal

 

A self-described conservation generalist, Cara lends her skills to help confront the gamut of conservation challenges in India. She writes, fundraises, networks, develops campaigns and leads projects under the umbrella of the Sanctuary Nature Foundation. Cara also serves as a Commissioning Editor for Sanctuary Asia magazine, and heads the unique Mud on Boots Project, a booster programme designed to empower grassroots conservationists in India. As an independent writer, her articles on wildlife and conservation have appeared in innumerable national publications.

RHATC team

 
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Nishanth C.V., Course Coordinator

 

Nature is my happy place from my childhood, I was lucky enough to spend ample time in wild places. And all the time spent has brought me so much of happiness and peace that I wish everyone to experience it for themselves. My father has always supported my fondness for nature that helped me nurture my passion towards conservation. Growing up close to Western Ghats, I was always captivated by all the things wild. We might think we are at the brink of exploration, but in reality there is no limit to nature’s surprises. In my college days I joined a bird watching organisation and started exploring and observing nature up close. I’m also keen on learning and documenting butterflies and birds. I believe that the bond between humans and nature is a seed, awareness provides the support for its growth. I started my journey by making aware of the diversity around us through my photography. I have obtained a Master's in Social Works in the year 2014 from Bharathiar University, Coimbatore.

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Latha G. Ravikumar, Administrator

 

I began as an office secretary cum accountant at Zoo Outreach Organisation and later progressed to finance director and administrator. This would not have been possible without Sally and Sanjay, who had recognized my hard work.  Now that I have an MBA, I am in charge of the organization's finances, administration, and legalities. Aside from that, I'm involved in most of the ZOO’s projects, which include Zoos' Print, scientific databases, web designing and developing, assistance with developing educational materials, travel planning, computer services, etc. Working at ZOO for more than 30 years has been a rewarding experience. The late Ms. Sally Walker, who served as a mentor, friend, and boss, was instrumental in my professional development, and I will be eternally grateful to her. I am confident that the RHATC initiative, which Sanjay is heading, will be a success, and I am delighted to be a part of this endeavour. I'm pleased to see that Sally's contributions to zoos and wildlife conservation will be recognized by this course, which will continue her legacy of service. Working in the background on projects allows me to maintain a high level of comfort with both production work and project management. My interests include learning new computer skills, business skills, and spending quality time with my family.

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Priyanka Iyer, Course Planner

 

I am passionate about wildlife conservation and have worked on aquatic systems, policy issues, education, and editing publications. I have assisted with IUCN Red List assessments and the Assessment to Planning process as part of the Conservation Planning Specialist Group, South Asia.  I am fond of creating art that creates awareness about threats faced by wildlife. I dream of a world where humans understand that they are part of the natural system and fall in love with the magic of reality.

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Payal Molur, Course & Conservation Education Planner

 

As a child I wanted to work with animals, now as an adult I live my dream. I began work in the field of wildlife documentary making, and then moved into education and curriculum development on wildlife topics and have been at it for over 17 years now. I have been a part of several international education teams that have taught issues on tigers, hoolock gibbons, amphibians, primates etc to teachers from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan and in several places across India. I have worked with communities and teachers in Nagaland to create eco clubs and stem the tide of hunting and worked on creating educational signages in museums and parks. Currently I am a freelance trainer with Zoo Outreach (India) in their wildlife education programs in India and a Curriculum Developer and Master Trainer with RoundGlass Learn.