- 2012 – Present: PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University College London (UCL) and Institute of Zoology, ZSL
- 2011-2012: Consultant, Panthera and Aaranyak, Northeast India
- 2011: Diploma in Advanced Spanish, Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Bogota)
- 2008-2010: Geospatial analyst, Panthera, New York
- 2006-2008: Masters of Environmental Management (MEM), Conservation Science and Policy, Nicholas School of Environment, Duke University
- 2002-2006: Bachelor of Technology, Mechanical and Automation Engineering, University of Delhi; Undergraduate coursework in Ecology, Duke University
My professional background has been the one of serious academic infidelity. I started off with a degree in engineering which ended in a thesis on understanding the ecology and economics of pastoralist-cattle-forest relationship through optimization models and computer simulation. I did a master’s in Conservation Science and Policy and wrote my dissertation on human-large carnivore interactions in Northern Bostwana. I then switched fields again and obtained an advanced diploma in Spanish. For my PhD I decided to combine two of my life long fascinations – big cats and human culture. My PhD thesis is an anthropological enquiry into the layered relationship between tigers, people and western ideas of nature conservation.
Broadly, I am interested in wildlife conservation, felid biology, conservation and development, conservation governance, political ecology, human-animal relations, indigenous ethnography, hunting, folktales, ecological modelling and geospatial analysis. I seek to employ interdisciplinary approaches to understand human-nature interactions at multiple scales.
My current PhD thesis:
The overall aim of this thesis is to gain an empirical understanding of the role of culture and local institutions in tiger conservation within the context of India’s conservation and development policies. Tigers, owing to their endangered status and high demand in illegal market, are typically conserved in strictly protected reserves managed by governments and large NGOs which are made free of human habitation. Although this approach has produced remarkable results in some areas, it has been criticized for dispossessing marginalized indigenous people with strong ties to the natural environment.
My research is based in an area where there are strong indications of a thriving tiger population exiting outside a typical protected setting. I employ a range of techniques including camera traps, analysis of scat samples, socio-economic surveys, folklore and in-depth ethnography to understand ecological, cultural and political factors that have allowed tigers to thrive in this area.
My research contributes to the on-going debate on the need to understand myriad relations that exist between human societies and natural systems that conservationists are trying to protect.
English (first); Hindi (first); Spanish (proficient); Portuguese (fluent); Punjabi (fluent); Assamese (spoken); Idu (spoken)
De Barros, A., Macdonald, E. A., Matsumoto, M. H., Paula, R. C., Nijhawan, S., Malhi, Y., Macdonald, D. W. (2014). Hotspots” to “REDDspots”: Optimizing carbon, jaguars and biodiversity conservation. Conservation Biology. 28(2):580-93
Nijhawan, S. 2012. Conservation Units, Priority Areas and Dispersal Corridors for Jaguars in Brazil. Cat News Special Issue 8, 38-42.
Zeller, K. A., Nijhawan, S., Salom-Pérez, R., Potosme, S. H., and Hines, J. E. 2011. Integrating occupancy modeling and interview data for corridor identification: A case study for jaguars in Nicaragua. Biological Conservation 144, 892-901.
Garrido, E. P., Soto, C., Diaz-Pulido, A., Nijhawan, S. y Hoogesteijn, R. 2011. El Corredor Jaguar: Una oportunidad para asegurar la conectividad de la biodiversidad en la cuenca del Orinoco. 234-247pp. In Lasso, C. A.; Rial, A.; Matallana, C.; Ramírez, W.; Señaris, J.; Díaz- Pulido, A.; Corzo, G.; Machado-Allison, A. (Eds.). 2011. Biodiversidad de la cuenca del Orinoco. II Áreas prioritarias para la conservación y uso sostenible. Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt, Ministerio del Ambiente, Vivienda y Desarrollo Territorial, WWF Colombia, Fundación Omacha, Fundación La Salle de Ciencias Naturales e Instituto de Estudios de la Orinoquia (Universidad Nacional de Colombia). Bogotá, D.C., Colombia. 304 pp.
Nijhawan, S. 2011. Conservation Units, Priority Areas and Dispersal Corridors. In Action Plan for Jaguar Conservation in Brazil - Population and Habitat Viability Assessment. Paula, R. C., Cavalcanti S., & Desbiez, A. (Eds). ICMBio, Brasilia. 490pp.
Donors and Collaborators:
Panthera (panther.org), 21st Century Tiger (21stcenturytiger.org), Ravi Shankar Inlaks Scholarship, J N Tata Endowment Scholarship