Research Associate, High Altitudes
Ph.D. (submitted) Wildlife Science, Nature Conservation Foundation, Wildlife Institute of India, Saurashtra University, Snow Leopard Trust
M.Sc. Environment Management, Forest Research Institute University, Dehradun, India
B.Sc. Zoology (H), University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India
My broad research interests lie in distribution patterns of large mammals, ecological-social-cultural determinants of species persistence in a landscape, co-occurrence-competition dynamics, impact of socio-economic development and resource extraction/use in wildlife rich areas, interactions and impact of non-native species on native wildlife and human-wildlife interactions and/or conflict. I am particularly interested in the high altitude landscapes of the Himalaya and Trans-Himalaya, although tropical ecosystems intrigue me equally.
I am currently involved in research on high altitude mammals. For my post-doctoral research I'm loking at depredation ecology of snow leopards in relation to domestic and wild-prey. For Ph.D., I examined how snow leopard and its primary prey bharal and Asiatic ibex are distributed in the Himalaya and Trans-Himalaya ranges of Himachal Pradesh and what affects their distribution at multiple scales. I also looked at how migratory livestock grazing impacts vegetation and wild-prey of snow leopard. My previous works include surveying northern Himachal for understanding occurrences of snow leopard and its prey using secondary information. For my M.Sc. dissertation I looked at how a commensal species, red fox, responds towards village size and free-ranging dog. I have been involved in snow leopard and prey population estimation surveys, management planning and capacity building.
Response of red fox to village expansion
How does red fox respond to increasing village size in the Trans-Himalaya?
- Popular Article2017From pastures for none to pastures for allSAEVUS, September-November, 36-41
- Journal Article2017Snow Leopard, Ecology and Conservation Issues in IndiaResonance, Indian Academy of Sciences, DOI 10.1007/s12045-017-0511-0Download
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Snow leopard, an elusive mammal species of the cat family, is the top-predator of the Central and South Asian, highaltitude ecosystem. Snow leopards occur at low densities across the Central Asian mountains and the Indian Himalayan region. Owing to their secretive nature and inaccessible habitat, little is known about its ecology and distribution. Due to its endangered status and high aesthetic value, the snow leopard is considered as an ‘umbrella species’ for wildlife conservation in the Indian Himalayas. This article summarizes the current knowledge on snow leopard ecology and conservation issues in the Indian context.
- Dataset2017Data from: Assessing changes in distribution of the endangered snow leopard Panthera uncia and its wild prey over 2 decades in the Indian Himalaya through interview-based occupancy surveys.DOI: https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.hp4b3
The data set has occupancy values and local extinction probability values for 88 grids/sites of 15km X 15km each, for snow leopard, blue sheep, Asiatic ibex and wild prey (blue sheep and ibex combined), across an area of 14,616 sq.km in the Himalaya and Trans-Himalaya mountains of Himachal Pradesh, India.
- Journal Article2017Assessing changes in distribution of the Endangered snow leopard Panthera uncia and its wild prey over 2 decades in the Indian Himalaya through interviewbased occupancy surveysdoi:10.1017/S0030605317001107Download
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Understanding species distributions, patterns of change and threats can form the basis for assessing the conservation status of elusive species that are difficult to survey. The snow leopard Panthera uncia is the top predator of the Central and South Asian mountains. Knowledge of the distribution and status of this elusive felid and its wild prey is limited. Using recall-based key-informant interviews we estimated site use by snow leopards and their primary wild prey, blue sheep Pseudois nayaur and Asiatic ibex Capra sibirica, across two time periods (past: –; recent: –) in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. We also conducted a threat assessment for the recent period. Probability of site use was similar across the two time periods for snow leopards, blue sheep and ibex, whereas for wild prey (blue sheep and ibex combined) overall there was an % contraction. Although our surveys were conducted in areas within the presumed distribution range of the snow leopard, we found snow leopards were using only % of the area (, km). Blue sheep and ibex had distinct distribution ranges. Snow leopards and their wild prey were not restricted to protected areas, which encompassed only % of their distribution within the study area. Migratory livestock grazing was pervasive across ibex distribution range and was the most widespread and serious conservation threat. Depredation by free-ranging dogs, and illegal hunting and wildlife trade were the other severe threats. Our results underscore the importance of community-based, landscape- scale conservation approaches and caution against reliance on geophysical and opinion-based distribution maps that have been used to estimate national and global snow leopard ranges.
- Report2017Population Density Estimation of Mountain Ungulates from Upper Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh.Khanyari, M., Malgaonkar, A., Ghoshal, A & Suryawanshi, K. (2017) Population Density Estimation of Mountain Ungulates from Upper Kinnaur. Submitted to Himachal Pradesh Forest Department.
- Report2017Population Density Estimation of Snow Leopard from Upper Kinnaur, Himachal PradeshMalgaonkar, A., Khanyari, M, Ghoshal, A. & Suryawanshi, K. (2017) Population Density Estimation of Snow Leopard from Upper Kinnaur. Submitted to Himachal Pradesh Forest Department.
- Conference Proceedings2016Impact of migratory livestock grazing on rangeland vegetation and wild-ungulate in the Indian Trans-Himalaya6th World Congress on Mountain Ungulates & 5th International Symposium on Mouflon
- Dataset2016Data from: Response of the red fox to expansion of human habitation in the Trans-Himalayan mountainshttp://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.5hs50
- Journal Article2016Response of the red fox to expansion of human habitation in the Trans-Himalayan mountainsEuropean Journal of Wildlife Research, 62: 131-136, DOI 10.1007/s10344-015-0967-8Download
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Habitat modification through rural and urban expansions negatively impacts most wildlife species. However, anthropogenic food sources in habitations can benefit certain species. The red fox Vulpes vulpes can exploit anthropogenic food, but human subsidies sometimes also sustain populations of its potential competitor, the free-ranging dog Canis familiaris. As human habitations expand, populations of free-ranging dog are increasing in many areas, with unknown effects on wild commensal species such as the red fox. We examined occurrence and diet of red fox along a gradient of village size in a rural mountainous landscape of the Indian Trans-Himalaya. Diet analyses suggest substantial use of anthropogenic food (livestock and garbage) by red fox. Contribution of livestock and garbage to diet of red fox declined and increased, respectively, with increasing village size. Red fox occurrence did not show a clear relationship with village size. Red fox occurrence showed weak positive relationships with density of free-ranging dog and garbage availability, respectively, while density of free-ranging dog showed strong positive relationships with village size and garbage availability, respectively. We highlight the potential conservation concern arising from the strong positive association between density of free-ranging dog and village size.
- Popular Article2016Large mammals of the HimalayaThe Himalayan Journal, Volume 71Download
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Introducing large mammals of the Himalaya and conservation issues as part of collaboration between High Altitude Program and the Himalayan Journal.