Please tell us about yourself. How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and fascinating career?
Brought up in a country rich in biodiversity and a family which is always enthusiastic to explore forests in every corner of the country, I gained interest in wildlife early on in life. But watching the country lose an asset of utmost importance, I realised the urgency of conserving our forests and wildlife.
What did you study?
I decided to take up zoology in my bachelors at Miranda House, University of Delhi. Eager to gain knowledge and experience outside my textbooks, I joined a team working on the urban ecology of Black Kites in Delhi followed by a team from the Wildlife Institute of India working on tigers and ungulates in Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh. I worked on two projects being carried out simultaneously in that area, “Resource partitioning among sympatric ungulates in Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh” and “Monitoring tiger, co-predators, prey and their habitat”.
Tell us about your career path
Intrigued by the varied behaviours exhibited by animals, I decided to explore the field of evolutionary ecology. I investigated the purpose of the bright ventral colourations observed in the family of fossorial snakes called Uropeltidae (shield tailed snakes). Living in close proximity with nature and studying herpetofauna made field work in the tropical forests of the Western Ghats a life changing experience. Ever since my attention has been shifted to the group of reptiles and amphibians, amazing creatures often ignored due to their small size and stigma.
What are your future plans?
I intend to change the conservation scenario in India and world wide with innovative ideas after having understood animals better through research in ecology and evolution. This opportunity given to me to pursue a fully funded masters in ecology, evolution and conservation at the Imperial College London is a major step towards achieving my goal and I wish to make the most of it.
Being a dancer since I was 3, and having learnt various folk, Indian and western classical forms, I also plan to connect the people in the urban areas to nature and spread awareness and love for wildlife through a language understood by all.