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Conservation Biology

The Earth is currently going through the commonly referred to ‘Sixth Extinction’, where human activity is largely responsible for a devastating impact on the earth’s biodiversity. To combat this we urgently require information on ecosystems and species (both inside and outside the Protected Area network). Lacking information on these could result in ill-informed conservation strategies, leading to a gross waste of resources and failure of conservation goals.

The Conservation Biology Division at SACON aims to bridge the gap in information on species and ecosystems that could provide informed recommendations towards biodiversity conservation policies in India. To date the Division has conducted distribution surveys as well as ecological and genetic studies on various taxa, especially those listed in the Threatened Category of the IUCN Red List, e.g. Forest Owlet, Fishing Cat, Asian Elephant, Lion-tailed Macaque. The Division has also conducted studies in some of the Global Biodiversity Hotspots of the country such as the Western Ghats, Arunachal Pradesh and the Nicobar Islands.

Along with research, one of the goals of the Conservation Biology Division is to increase capacity in the field of conservation through training workshops for stakeholders, including foresters, local people around Protected Areas, students from colleges and interested citizens. These are held in field situations (field techniques, sensitization towards conservation of specific species and ecosystems) as well as in the laboratory (conservation genetics).

Dr. Shomita Mukherjee   Principal Scientist

Dr. H. N. Kumara   Senior Scientist


Arijit Pal, PhD Student

Interests: I am interested in understanding parallels between primate society and cultural evolution of humans, by studying the macaques as the model animal. In addition, I would like to contribute to the wildlife conservation which requires our undivided attention.

Current Work:  I am studying the reproductive behavior, sexual selection and extractive foraging in Nicobar long tailed macaque at Great Nicobar Island. I am also deeply motivated to capitalize my effort on man-animal conflicts especially man-elephant conflict in Southern West Bengal. Contact :

Santhosh, PhD Student

Interests: I am interested in addressing species conservation issues and conflicts using participatory management by prioritizing issues that need immediate action by providing inputs to policies and management plans.

Current Work:  I am working on conservation of lion-tailed macaques in Central Western Ghats of Karnataka, India. I am largely working towards devising strategies for sustainable resource use and sustainable development by local communities and administrators by means of participatory forest management involving the stakeholders. Contact :

   Partha Sarathi Mishra, PhD Student

Interests: My interest lies in understanding how a group functions as a unit, faces challenges and communicates by considering macaques as the study animal.  I would like to work by collaborating with interested researchers on conflict and communication across various taxa with special emphasis on macaques and cetaceans.

Current Work: Currently I am studying conflict resolution in Nicobar long-tailed macaques at Great Nicobar Island. I am also looking at the gestural communication in the context of aggression to understand aggression in details. I am using Social Networking Analysis to understand the role of every individual in the society.

Contact :

   Aditi Mukherjee, PhD Student

Interests:  My fascination for nature and wildlife motivated me to pursue an in-depth study in the field of wildlife conservation science. I did my post graduation in Biodiversity and Conservation with specific interest in herpetology and phylogenetics. I am explicitly interested in behavioral ecology and ecology, social behaviour and inter-specific interactions.

Current Work: I am working in a DST_SERB project on Burrow-dwelling animals which aims to gather substantial information on the burrow use patterns by terrestrial vertebrates (Crested porcupine, Jackal, Python and Bat) in Keoladeo National Park. My work is intriguing in a sense that, it gives an opportunity to explore the elusive world of burrowing animals using camera traps and burrow video cameras. Contact :

Avadhoot D. Velankar, PhD Student

Interests:  Interested in watching animals and understanding them.

Current Work: I am working on population status of long tailed macaque in Nicobar islands, and their adaptability to changing conditions. I am also documenting their feeding ecology and ranging pattern in Campbell Bay, Great Nicobar.Contact :

Joydeep Shil, PhD Student

Interests: My interest of study is to understand the interactions between species and their environment with relation to habitat and niche modeling, species distribution and land use pattern and effect of climate change on species as well as landscape level.

Current Work: I am studying the troop dynamics, feeding and ranging behavior of golden langur in Chakrashila wildlife sanctuary, Assam, India. I am also working for conservation of golden langur and other flora-fauna of the region through community participation and by collaborative research work. Contact :

Pankaj Koparde, PhD student

Interests – I am interested in science-driven conservation research and outreach. My particular research interests include biogeography, conservation genetics, citizen science, landscape ecology, odonatology and science communication. I am also involved in various citizen science projects concerning owls and dragonflies.

Current work – My doctoral thesis explores evolutionary and ecological explanations to endemicity. For this, I work on the Critically Endangered Forest Owlet and other co-distributed owls. I use molecular tools and techniques, and RS-GIS based niche modeling approach to answering the questions. Contact:

  Aakriti Singh, Research Fellow

Interests: Peculiarity and charisma of nature’s beauty and wonder always fascinated me towards it. But my experiences during various expeditions and training sessions throughout my M.Sc. helped me to learn the unspoken language of wilderness. My interest lies in wildlife conservation, human-wildlife conflicts, and animal behavior.

Current work:I am working ina project on Elephantsin South-West Bengal which aims at studying the ecology of elephants as well as the human-elephant interactions in the area. Being able to give a little contribution towards management of conflict issues involving this magnificent species is my major calling. Contact :


2016 onwards Survey for small cats in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai.
2016 onwards A comprehensive study of potential ecological impact of windmill farms on wildlife with special emphasis to avifauna in Karnataka.
2016 onwards Ecology of Elephant (Elephas maximus) in South-West Bengal including population dynamics, migratory pattern, feeding habits and human-Elephant conflict.
2015 onwards Determinants of spatial foraging patterns of the Endangered Lion-tailed Macaque.
2015 onwards Monitoring of Lion-tailed Macaque Macaca silenus population and its conservation in the Western Ghats, India.


2013-2016 Ecological species sorting in relation to habitat structure in the small cat guild of Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh.
2013-2016 Determining the taxonomic and conservation status of the Forest Owlet (Heteroglaux blewitii).
2013-2016 Spatio-temporal burrow use patterns by vertebrates in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India.
2013 Survey for Fishing Cat in Kerala
2012-2016 Social organization, behavior and phylogeography, of Macaca fascicularis umbrosa on the Nicobar Islands, India.
2012-2014 Evaluating the status of NTFP trees and development of a model for sustainable harvest of Garcinia gummi-gutta in Aghanashini–Lion-tailed Macaque Conservation Reserve, Western Ghats, India.
2012-2013 A survey of slender Loris in parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, India
2012 Estimation of abundance of feral elephants in Interview Island Sanctuary, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India.
2010-2011 Fishing Cat survey in India using molecular tools.
2010-2011 Assessment of occurrence and abundance of large mammals, birds and woody plants in Bannerghatta National Park, Karnataka
2009-2011 Development of conservation strategy for a newly discovered Lion-tailed Macaque Macaca silenus population in Sirsi-Honnavara, Western Ghats: II. Understanding of the impact of NTFP collection on the Lion-tailed Macaque.