Dr. Krithi Karanth, an Indian Conservation Biologist and the winner of National Geographic grant
India, a land of billion people, is also a home to diverse flora and fauna. The survival or the coexistence of wild animals along with this vast population has always been questioned and remained a topic of discussion among many. With both the booming population and economy, the peaceful existence of both, have several challenges. To find some ways out, Dr. Krithi Karanth, a Conservation Biologist, is on her mission to analyze the complex human-animal interactions.
Since 2001, Krithi Karanth has conducted extensive research on conservation issues in India. She feels wise solutions can only be based on facts and data, but surprisingly she found them lacking. Her research mainly focuses on mammal extinctions, effects of anthropogenic pressures, voluntary resettlement of people, tourism trends, human-wildlife conflicts, resource and land use change around Indian parks.
Krithi Karanth was introduced to the wildlife by her father, Dr. K. Ullas Karanth, one of India’s most renowned conservationists. He began bringing her into the jungle when she was only one year old. Krithi spotted her first leopard when she was three. And she is now passing the same passion to her daughter.
We were with my parents, and all three generations of us sat in absolute silence, taking in the moment, watching this amazing leopard. There are not enough words to describe that memory.
Karanth did a massive extinction survey and documented the data like how many species have disappeared across India in the last hundred years, why certain animals persist, and which mammals may face extinction in the future.
Habitat loss, hunting, illegal wildlife trade, and poaching have caused dramatic, widespread declines of species that were plentiful just one century ago. The most important finding from the survey is that protected areas really do matter. These protected areas, along with human cultural tolerance, play a very important role in why some species are able to survive, says Krithi Karanth.
Krithi Karanth holds bachelors degrees in Environmental Science and Geography from the University of Florida. She also holds a masters degree in Environmental Science from Yale University, doctoral degree in Environmental Science and policy from Duke University. She was a postdoctoral fellow with Columbia University. Krithi Karanth was honored with National Geographic Societie’s 10,000th grantee, in 2011. In 2013, she was named ‘Women of the Year’ by Elie India. Krithi Karanth was also awarded a Ramanujan fellowship from 2011-2016 by the Indian government’s Department of Science and Technology. She has received the Cambridge Hamied award, Society for Conservation Biology Best Student Award, Wildlife Conservation Award, Duke Outstanding Paper and other honors.
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