Apoorva Kulkarni

Matric Year: 2020 – Subject: DPhil Biology – Scholarship: Indira Gandhi Scholar

Apoorva is an ecologist, primarily interested in all aspects of human-animal interactions and applied conservation. Her DPhil research draws from interdisciplinary fields of natural and social sciences to investigate farmer-wildlife conflict and co-existence, crop losses and livelihood interventions in transitional forest landscapes. Her research is based out of the Central Western Ghats of Karnataka, India, alongside the marginal farmers of Indo-African Siddi community, local NGOs and government stakeholders. Her study adopts the UN Sustainable Development Goal 2 Zero Hunger and Goal 15 Life on Land.

She is currently an associate at the Linnean Society of London, an honorary member of the Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) Consortium and a steering committee member of the IUCN SSC Pigeon and Dove Specialist Group. Her past work includes community-based species conservation, animal movement ecology, bioacoustics studies and documenting traditional ecological knowledge, both in terrestrial as well as marine realms.

Apoorva holds a Masters in Ecology (2013) from Pondicherry University and is the second Indian woman to have received the Global Fellowship in Marine Conservation by Duke University. For her Master’s research, she was funded by the International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF) to study the conflict situation between Smooth-coated otters and fishermen, and associated socio-economics in the Cauvery River, India. After her Masters and stint at Duke, she received a follow-up grant by Oak Foundation to collaborate with Conservation International, Brazil and founded the Marine Conservation without Borders initiative with her colleagues at Bahia, Brazil.

On returning to India, Apoorva worked as a Research Associate at the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) on the India Biodiversity Portal project. She then went on to work as a Research Assistant at the University of Lethbridge, Canada for a year to study the acoustic communication of the endemic Adelaide’s warbler in Puerto Rico. On her return, she found the need to facilitate field research in India, engage local communities and children in field ecology studies, and thus began the Curious Naturalists Initiative in the Western Ghats. She also collaborates as a research affiliate with the Wildlife Information Liaison Development (WILD) Society in India.

Alongside research, Apoorva is also an active participant at policy based global forums such as the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity- Conference of the Parties (UN CBD-COP) and Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) COP representing youth and indigenous communities for wildlife conservation. She is also a trained Natural History Illustrator and sketches the wonders of nature, which inspire her to keep going in the midst of all the socio-ecological crisis.

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