About Fellow

University of Missouri

University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Bangalore

I am an ecologist with broad interests in animal movement ecology, disease ecology, savanna ecosystems and wildlife in human-dominated systems. I completed my M.Sc. in Wildlife Science from the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun in 1997, and worked for several years with research and conservation organisations in India. In 2008 I received a Ph.d. from the University of Missouri studying the competitive dynamics between free-ranging domestic dogs and a native carnivore, the Indian fox. Subsequent to this, I did a post-doc at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, studying the movement ecology of elephants, large African carnivores and savanna ecosystem dynamics. I returned to India in 2012 as an inaugural National Environment Sciences Fellow of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. At the same time, I was accepted as a faculty member at the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), in Bangalore. 

My research in India has spanned across my interests, with projects on the conservation of semi-arid savanna grasslands in peninsular India, the adaptation of mesocarnivores to human-dominated landscapes, and the impact of invasive species on grasslands. My interests in disease ecology, which started during my Ph.D. research on dogs, has led to me explore the dynamics of pathogen transmission between dogs and native carnivores. A natural extension of this then was to examine zoonoses such as rabies that are transmitted by the massive dog population in India (~60 million).

My motivation for the India Alliance fellowship stemmed from a deceptively simple question: Why is India not yet rabies free?

At 20,000/annum (likely a huge underestimate), India has the highest human mortalities from rabies, with almost all of them being contracted from dogs. Yet, rabies control measures are based on data obtained from other countries with very different dog demography and ownership patterns, and it is therefore no surprise that they have not been properly implemented, and not really worked. With this project I plan to examine rabies in India under the “OneHealth” framework by combining ecology, epidemiology and human health.

My collaborators on this project are:

1) Dr. Aniruddha Belsare (Co-PI), University of Idaho (http://www.cmciuidaho.org/profile/?smid=222)

2) Dr. Darryn Knobel, Ross University (https://veterinary.rossu.edu/about/meet-our-faculty-staff/darryn-knobel.html.html)

3) Dr. Maria Thaker, Indian Institute of Science (https://ces.iisc.ernet.in/new/index.php?q=user/25)

4) Dr. Prashanth, N.S., Institute of Public Health (https://iphindia.org/about-us/team/) 

5) Prof. Rob Slotow, University of KwaZulu-Natal (https://chs.ukzn.ac.za/dvchealth.ukzn.ac.za/homepage.aspx)

6) Neha Panchamiya, ResQ Charitable Trust (www.resqct.org)