WCS – India believes in the application of reliable science as a basis for all conservation action. All our research projects are implemented by our staff scientists, research fellows, students and associates.
Our major partners in science are USGS-Patuxent Wildlife Research Centre, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Indian Statistical Institute, Wildlife Institute of India and Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment.
Our long-term research projects focus on endangered species such as tiger, leopard, dhole, elephant and large mammals. In India, we have pioneered the development of advanced wildlife study methods including line transect sample surveys for counting large mammals; techniques for safe capture, sedation and radio-tracking of large carnivores; photographic capture-recapture sampling using automated camera traps, and habitat occupancy estimation from sign surveys for a diverse range of species including tigers, leopards, dholes, elephants and other large mammals. Other focal areas of research have been development of advanced statistical models for animal population assessments, studies of human dimensions of wildlife conservation and more recently, adaptive management and structured decision-making in conservation.
Our research findings as well as conservation practices that we implement are developed in partnership with high caliber institutions and individuals who are world leaders in their own fields. Our robust methods and practices in wildlife conservation are being increasingly adopted by national governments as well as non-governmental conservation organizations across Asia.
The tiger (Panthera tigris) has been the flagship species for biodiversity and wildlife conservation in India since 1972. India has led global efforts to save tigers in terms of commitment and investments. Today over 50% of the world’s wild tigers are found in India.
WCS – India has played a significant role in tiger recovery efforts in the country since 1988. Through unmatched scientific rigour, we have been in the forefront of understanding tigers. We have applied this science to save tigers on ground through extensive ecological surveys and conservation intervention projects. By developing cutting-edge methodologies and better conservation models and by sharing these freely with others, WCS – India has multiplied its conservation impact several fold world-wide.
Ecology and Behaviour of Threatened Species
Several species of vertebrates, particularly carnivores and other large mammals are threatened by widespread declines and extinction because of their ecological fragility and conflict prone tendencies with people. WCS – India anchors its broader conservation efforts around several threatened and charismatic species. We have specifically applied our scientific skills to advance the understanding of several threatened species and taxa, and intervened decisively to assist their recovery.
Our scientists are working to develop a marine conservation programme with the strength of different national and international networks/organizations as well as several grassroots groups. Coral reef ecology, reef fish communities and community dynamics of the marine ecosystem and the role that local community institutions play in regulating marine resource use are the subjects of study. Current work focusses on (1) documenting patterns and processes of reef ecosystem (2) describing on-going shifts on reef ecosystems caused due to the impact of humans and climate change.
Development of Methodologies
WCS – India has been very active in the development of methodologies related to estimating population and other related ecological parameters. Many of the methods and study protocols developed by us are now widely used globally.
WCS – India also supports the work of talented and promising researchers through various small grants. Such supported research covers a wide range of conservation topics, which are identified and executed by researchers who are not full time staff or affiliated to the Doctoral or Masters Programs. As the WCS – India education program has grown over the years this component of supported research is now largely being funded through Research Fellowship Program and other such grants directly from WCS, New York.