She’s a wildlife biologist, conservationist and a researcher.. She has put in tremendous amounts of efforts in studying and making people more aware of the human-leopard conflict.. She’s the member of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group..She is currently with Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) – India program, Bangalore..She has been awarded with Carl Zeiss Wildlife Conservation Award, TN Koshoo Memorial Award and the Maharana Udai Singh Award .. She is someone whose work has been so inspirational to me and many others.. Meet Dr.Vidya Athreya ..
1. What was your childhood like?Were you always interested in knowing more about animals?
Yes, my mother comes from a family which loves animals and we always had a lot of cats at home.
2. Could you tell us about your journey into the field of wildlife conservation?
I went for my first wildlife camp when in college (FY) with WWF Mumbai to the Anaimalai forests and realised this is what I want to do the rest of my life
3. How has the wildlife conservation landscape changed over the last few years in India, especially on the human-wildlife conflict?
I think there is greater understanding about the issue and realisation that it is very complex, rooted in society, culture and politics and solutions lie in the domain of changing human behaviour and not animal behaviour.
4. Could you tell us a bit about your project , Project Waghoba?
It is a project that started out by researching on how people and leopards share space in an agricultural landscape in Western Maharashtra. Now our team has increased and we are also studying elephants, wolves, and the people that share spaces with these wild animals.
5. What has been the most challenging thing that you have faced while conducting your research?
The narrow vision that “wildlifers” unfortunately have to these issues. Their understanding comes from popular media (Indian and from abroad) which is more relevant to other countries than it is to the Indian conditions. The problem then is that such people look for solutions too outside of India which is not going to be relevant for our conditions. Which is why there is no large scale resolution of conflict but only some examples in some small places…
6. How can more awareness be spread when it comes to wildlife conservation?
If you ask me I think awareness should start among the wildlife community and the administration (forest department, revenue department, police department) and the media. Without a greater understanding of the issue we are bound to fail in any long term mitigation action.
7. What keeps you motivated?
I enjoy my work.
8. Who has been your biggest inspiration?
I think a lot of people have gone into making what is my inspiration, my close and extended family, teachers, mentors, the farmers I have met and the good officials I have worked with in the Forest Department and even some of the leopards we had collared who taught me so much.
To know more about her work, please visit: www.projectwaghoba.in
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