Technical Plenary (9:00 am – 10:00 am)

1. Suneetha S

Date: 15 October 2019

Title: Trans-disciplinary approaches in socio-ecological research

Abstract: Recently, research and policy agendas are attempting to integrate knowledge generated from multiple contexts in order to ensure more representative problematization, analysis and identification of solutions. Such knowledge comes either from mainstream “western science” approaches or through other epistemological approaches that are considered traditional / indigenous. It is noteworthy that such knowledge integration has always been common among activities led on the ground by local communities, civil society organizations and certain research communities engaged in ‘action research’.

Since 2012, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem services (IPBES) has mandated that all its assessments will integrate knowledge from contemporary modern science and from traditional/ indigenous sciences. This echoes a re-orientation amongst several researchers and implementing agencies that mainstream research and policy setting should be aligned with practitioner priorities and contexts to enable achieving solutions that can be considered ecologically sustainable and equitable.

The talk will focus on some of the ongoing efforts at arriving at such trans disciplinary solutions to trigger reflections on adapting such methodologies in conservation research.

2. Mordecai

Date: 17 October 2019

Title: The need for ‘Human Rigour’ in Wildlife Conservation Study and the Danger of Losing Social Sustainability.

Abstract: Enclosure, displacement, and the destabilization of social relationships are negative impacts on human and biodiversity equilibria all over the world. However, they have become the norm in conservation, particularly in the global south. Most practitioners find themselves unable to adequately handle the human dimensions of the conservation challenges they are addressing. The root of this problem is in our training as conservation biologists, which implicitly and explicitly demonizes local populations. This is because the way we study and practice conservation originated in colonialism and was never designed to accommodate our people. In my lecture, I will share experiences from my studies, and work in areas of ecology and policy to advise students on the dangers of weak human dimensions in their work, and how they can improve the ‘human rigour’ of their projects to ensure sustainable outcomes.

3. Yadvendradev Jhala

Date: 18 October 2019

Title: Conserving Large Carnivores in India: Role of Science

Abstract: Large space requirements, low densities, conflict with human interests and illegal demand for body parts, make large carnivores vulnerable to extinctions. Conserving viable populations in small Protected Areas (PA’s, average size ~239km2) having varied intensity of human use and surrounded by a matrix of high human density is extremely challenging. Herein, I review contribution of research from long-term studies on lions, tigers and wolves towards the assessment of status, demography, population viability, habitat connectivity, conservation genetics and human-carnivore conflict in formulating policy and management strategies.

Due to their small size, only a few PA’s can harbor viable populations. Sharing space with humans is an essential and unavoidable conservation strategy for most large carnivores. Securing source populations, low density occupancy within sink habitats, corridor connectivity between populations are essential for metapopulation structure and the only strategy that ensures long-term persistence of carnivore populations. Conflict is inevitable when carnivores share space with people, understanding and managing this conflict within site specific social and economic context is essential.

Country scale assessment of tigers, co-predators and prey has made it possible to keep the pulse of site-specific status and direct management efforts. Conservation Genetics has helped identify ancient, unique and divergent genepools for targeted investments. Incentivized, voluntary relocation of humans from within core areas of tiger reserves has created inviolate space for wildlife (over 35,000 km2). Mapping of habitat corridors has allowed for informed EIA’s for development projects, delineation of ecosensitive zones for PA’s and ensured wildlife friendly norms for infrastructure development. Wildlife science has played a pivotal role in shaping conservation policy and management strategies in modern India. Policy and management based on science has resulted in recovery of some large carnivores and highlighted strategies that need to be implemented for some others