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Photo: Pratibha Singh, Conservation and Field Research InternConservation and Field Research Intern

PGD, Public Policy and Management, 2006, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore
Associate of IGNFA (Masters in Forestry), 1998, Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy, Dehradun
M.S. 1993, University of Delhi
B.S. 1991, University of Delhi

My initial work area in 1997 was in the lower Himalayan region, the Shivalik hills where I was exposed to the intricacies of forest management. This was an ecologically fragile area – habitat of wild elephants and leopards, which was invaded by cattle and people. My dissertation in the academy examined the devastating effects of Gujars lopping the trees in the forests to feed their free-roaming cattle. These actions almost terminated the cycle of flowering, fruiting and regeneration of Terminalia tomentosa and Anogeissus latifolia, the major tree species in this forest. As a forest officer I tried my best to get cattle grazing controlled or excluded from wildlife habitats, as I believe strongly that survival of wild herbivores is pivoted on our ability to render areas inviolate from cattle grazing.

Another project in the Shivaliks involved investigating the plant species richness and the effect of cattle grazing in the fringe and core areas of the national park. Species like Lantana camara, an invasive shrub, made wild elephant movement difficult and suppressed the natural regeneration of Shorea robusta (Sal trees). In my studies on plant species richness, I found that as one moved from the fringes of the national park to the core area, the number of plant species did not significantly increase but certain indigenous species had more number of individuals per unit area.

After my stint in the lower Himalayas I moved on to become a Zoological Park Director at Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. It was not only a zoo with one-half million visitors annually, but also a reserved forest area. The forest supported a extraordinarily large population of over 400 deer (Axis axis) and Nilgai (an antelope, Boselaphus tragocamelus). It also had a free-ranging population of over approximately 400 Rhesus monkeys and 150 langurs. With so many herbivores and hunting or culling of any kind being legally banned in India, I faced the challenging task of “sustainably” managing the area. My interest in plant-animal interactions, especially herbivory, grew. I got to observe the effects of wild ungulates on forest health and productivity. The zoo experience also got me interested in captive animal management, especially of birds, and in conservation genetics, captive breeding and wildlife forensics.

Over the years beyond my Shivalik stint or the zoological park involvement, I have also worked at the State secretariat in Uttar Pradesh, India. As a team, we were able to plan the planting 10 million saplings on a single day, and we formed the State Biodiversity board and State Bamboo steering committee. My experience in the Indian Forest Service has given me a unique opportunity to observe complex and interesting plant–animal interactions in tropical forests.

My areas of interest include wildlife forensics, conservation genetics of threatened and endangered species, conservation education, population biology, forest ecology, evolution of defense mechanisms and tolerance to herbivores, captive animal management, human–animal conflicts, and politics of conservation.

Contact Information
Send an email to Pratibha Singh

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