Doctoral Program

Through Centre for Wildlife Studies, WCS – India Program supports Doctoral students at Manipal University, University of Oxford and other accredited national and international academic institutions.

WCS – India Program supports and facilitates many PhD programs pursued by individuals independently. Our sponsored PhD program researchers study a broad array of species from tigers, elephants, hornbills, to king cobras, gibbons and mountain ungulates. Emphasis is laid on establishing benchmark ecological data in specific conservation sites.

Listed below are individuals who have completed their doctoral degree with support from WCS – India Program.

  • Dr. Vidya Athreya awarded PhD from Manipal University in 2012. Her doctoral work was titled, ‘Conflict Resolution and Leopard Conservation in a Human-dominated Landscape’. The study was conducted in collaboration with Maharashtra Forest Department. Dr. Ullas Karanth was her guide.
  • Dr. Raman Kumar awarded PhD from Manipal University in 2011. His doctoral work was titled, ‘Woodpecker community responses to forest management in sub-Himalayan dipterocarp forests of northwestern India’. Dr. Ajith Kumar and Dr. Ghazala Shahabuddin were his guides.
  • Dr. G. V. Reddy (IFS) awarded PhD from Manipal University in 2011. His doctoral work was titled, ‘Comparative Evaluation of Management Regimes for Biodiversity Conservation in India: A Case Study from Nagarahole, Karnataka’. The study was conducted in collaboration with Karnataka Forest Department. Dr. Ullas Karanth was his guide and Dr. Anindya Sinha was his co-guide.
  • Dr. N. Samba Kumar awarded PhD from Manipal University in 2011. His doctoral work was titled, ‘Assessment of distribution and abundance of ungulate prey spatial models in Nagarahole and Bandipur Tiger Reserves of India’. Dr. Ullas Karanth was his guide.
  • Dr. Arjun Gopalaswamy has been studying tigers for nearly a decade and received his PhD from the University of Oxford in 2015. His doctoral studies focuses on addressing the methodological challenges of studying meta-population dynamics of tigers in the Western Ghats landscape in India. He was guided by Dr. Ullas Karanth and Dr. David Macdonald.
  • Dr. Devcharan Jathanna was awarded PhD from the Manipal University. His doctoral studies examine the ecology and conservation of small carnivores in the Western Ghats. He was guided by Dr. Ullas Karanth and Dr. Ajith Kumar.


Faculty eligible to guide students are Dr. Ullas Karanth, Dr. Ajith Kumar and Dr. Krithi Karanth. Please write to them directly if you are interested in pursuing a PhD through Manipal University.

Masters Degree Program

WCS – India Program partners with National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Government of India in running a full-fledged two years Masters Degree Program in Wildlife Biology and Conservation at the modern world-class campus of  NCBS in Bangalore.

The conservation of India’s wildlife and biodiversity depends critically on sound professional management of conservation areas in the future. The Masters program in Wildlife Biology and Conservation offers a wonderful opportunity towards the advancement of wildlife ecology as a discipline and to the conservation of India’s biological diversity.

To train effective conservation scientists, the post-graduate degree imparts technical communication and problem-solving skills and provides exposure to relevant social, political and economic issues that impact wildlife conservation. Graduates of this course will have the ability not only to conduct innovative ecological research but also to address applied questions related to conservation of biodiversity.

This course is offered in collaboration with the National Centre for Biological Sciences and the Centre for Wildlife Studies, with the degree being conferred by Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. From its inception in 2004 this program has matriculated 88 master’s students who have published over 65 peer-reviewed scientific papers.


Professional Development

WCS – India Program conducts many formal professional courses and workshops often in collaboration with the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (USA).

The conservation of India’s biological diversity critically depends on professionally managing conservation areas in the government and other domains. Given the country’s aspirations for rapid economic development, the need for intensive conservation efforts has never been more acute than it is at the present time. However, there is a shortage of professionally trained, motivated and savvy conservation biologists and managers to address its numerous conservation problems. One of the overarching goals of WCS – India Program is to bridge this gap through pro-active professional development and capacity building programs for in-country nationals. These programs are primarily designed as a strong value proposition by providing high quality training to Indian nationals.

The goals of the professional development programs are primarily met through:

1. Supporting highly motivated individuals, researchers and conservationists through small grants to encourage rigorous field biology and innovative conservation interventions. Over the years, through its local partner  Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS), WCS – India Program has supported more than 120 meritorious individuals. Many of them are pursuing wildlife conservation as a full-time profession.

2. Conducting short-term field training modules on various field monitoring and conservation techniques for aspiring wildlife biologists, amateur naturalists, conservationists, teachers, students, forest department staff and civil society volunteers interested in wildlife research and conservation issues. So far, more than 3000 persons have been trained in over 100 workshops and field exercises.

3. Offering a month-long internship programs to highly motivated individuals desirous of pursuing a career in wildlife biology and conservation.

4. Partnering with NCBS to administer a formal 2-year graduate academic training program in wildlife biology and conservation.

5. Organizing highly focused thematic workshops to select wildlife scientists and Protected Area managers to enhance their professional capacity for applying cutting-edge tools for management of threatened animal populations. These workshops are lead by eminent scientists from both India and abroad, often resulting in a scientific product aimed to reach out widely to practicing researchers, managers and conservationists. So far, six technical international workshops have been organized by WCS – India Program.

  • January 2010. WCS Asia Landscapes meeting, Nagarahole National Park, India.
  • June 2008. International Technical Workshop on Biological Monitoring Data Analysis for WCS Tigers Forever Country Programs, Bangalore, India.
  • February 2006. WCS Asia Tiger meeting, Nagarahole National Park, India.
  • August 2005. Advanced course in Analysis and Management of animal populations. Bangalore, India.
  • January 2004. International Field Training Workshop to WWF Regional Staff on sampling based approaches for monitoring tigers and their prey. Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, India.
  • March  2003. International Technical workshop on Parameter Estimation and decision-making for conservation and management of animal populations and communities. Bangkok, Thailand.
  • November 2003. International Technical Workshop on monitoring Asian elephant populations and assessing threats. Nagarahole National Park, India. (This resulted in the publication of a manual titled ‘Monitoring Elephant Populations and Assessing Threats’ edited by Simon Hedges)
  • January 1999. International Technical Workshop on monitoring tigers and their prey. Nagarahole National Park, India. (This resulted in the publication of a highly acclaimed manual titled ‘Monitoring Tigers and their Prey’ edited by Ullas Karanth and James Nichols)