Please tell us about yourself

Worldwide, tigers are a threatened species for a number of reasons including poaching and illegal trading.  However, habitat loss is a significant contributor and the focus of research currently being conducted within IGES by Sonali Ghosh of the Indian Forest Service is to utilise time-series of optical and radar remote sensing data to provide unique information on the composition, structure and biomass of vegetation and changes in these over time.  Such information is being used as input to habitat distribution models in an attempt to better understand how tigers exploit habitats within their range and to assess the impacts of natural events (e.g., fires) and human activities.

Sonali, originally from Kokrajhar in Assam, India, is a PhD student at the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences. Her studies concentrate on Remote Sensing Technology and GIS and how they can support the management of tiger habitats in India.

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How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career?

“I came to Aberystwyth UK because it provided a multi-disciplinary approach to the kind of work I was interested in. I am a wildlife biologist by education and a forester by profession. Back in India, I had been working for the past ten years in the field of community forestry and wildlife management that took me to some of the remotest and underdeveloped regions of the country. Looking back, it was a good decision to take a break from my work to pursue higher studies under the aegis of the Commonwealth Scholarship.

How has the experience been at Aberystwyth UK?

My supervisor and the Geography department at Aberystwyth University have so far provided the right opportunity to upgrade my skills and it is hoped that I shall be able to learn new technology (Remote Sensing and GIS) and apply it suitably to manage Tiger habitats in India.

The University has also provided a place for holistic development and several personal interests that were long forgotten have been revived. Reading fiction and watching world cinema borrowed from the well equipped library during weekends gives a sense of satisfaction that was never felt before. I also plan to go on long walks and join the sports centre in the coming year and perhaps try my hand at learning baking and reading Spanish! After all it is one life and there are so many things to do….but in the end I want it to be a truly memorable and satisfying experience!”