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British Ecological Society prize for Snow Leopard Trust ecologist

Snow Leopard Trust ecologist Dr Kulbhushansingh (“Kullu”) Suryawanshi has won a British Ecological Society Young Investigator prize. The prize – one of only five awarded each year – recognizes the best research papers published in BES journals by early career scientists.

 

Kullu Suryawanshi in Spiti, India

Kullu Suryawanshi in Spiti, India

Kulbhushan won the Southwood Prize for the best paper in the BES’s Journal of Applied Ecology in 2013 for his paper on ‘People, predators and perceptions: patterns of livestock depredation by snow leopards and wolves’ (which we’ve written about more extensively here).

The prize, which is includes £250, a year’s BES membership plus a year’s subscription to the journal, will be presented at the British Ecological Society’s annual meeting in Lille, France, in December.

According to the journal editors, who judged the prize: “There is a lot of literature on human-wildlife conflict, but the careful and thorough interdisciplinary approach taken to the issue by Dr Suryawanshi and his colleagues is still far too rare.

“This paper combines robust social science with cutting edge ecological research to generate novel insights with direct lessons for management of human-wildlife interactions. Papers that contain each of these four components areas are still very rare and are exactly the type of research that the Journal of Applied Ecology aims to promote.”

The paper compared people’s perceptions of the risk factors for predation by snow leopards and wolves on their livestock with data on actual predation incidents. The research also involved the authors in substantial ecological fieldwork to estimate wild prey numbers.

a wild snow leopard photographed by Kullu Suryawanshi during one of his studies

a wild snow leopard photographed by Kullu Suryawanshi during one of his studies

The study calls into question the suggestion that snow leopard killing of livestock would reduce if wild prey numbers were increased, and suggests that work is needed to align perceived and actual risk and to engage better with people about how best to address carnivore depredation of their livestock.

Kulbhushan is currently working as a Regional Ecologist with the Snow Leopard Trust, Seattle, US & as a Research Scholar with the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), Mysore, India.

For his PhD with the NCF, he worked on the impact of wild-prey availability on the population and diet of the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) with implications for livestock predation by this endangered carnivore.

He is interested in the application of science-based problem solving to conservation conflicts, and applications of population and Behavioural Ecology to species conservation.

 

 

 

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