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TDU has Partnered with The Coexistence Consortium to Set up the Human-Wildlife Coexistence Cell. The Cell has been formed with a vision to promote Human-Wildlife Coexistence with a holistic, inclusive, and just approach to environmental conservation. The mission of the Cell is to understand, promote and mainstream a range of social, cultural, and ecological interventions that enable coexistence, by minimising negative human-wildlife interactions and equitable sharing of costs and benefits of conservation.

TDU Human-Wildlife Coexistence Cell

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What is Coexistence?

A sustainable though dynamic state, where humans and wildlife co-adapt to sharing landscapes. While some negative impacts on both people and wildlife are perhaps unavoidable, laws, policies and conservation interventions should attempt to minimise these. To ensure wildlife populations persist but in socially and ethically legitimate ways, acceptable to local communities, where the risks are kept within tolerable levels, which are determined based on the local context

The Program

The Flagship program of the Cell is the Coexistence Fellowship Program which has been set up with a vision to enable and empower grassroots conservation practitioners and researchers to steer projects on Coexistence.

The Coexistence Fellowship Program will enable researchers and conservationists to study, understand, implement, and facilitate the coexistence paradigm in conservation. The philosophy of building local partnerships and capacity building is embedded in the structure of the program where the fellowship is awarded to a team of two fellows for a period of two years. At least one of the two fellows needs to be from the proposed project site. Candidates will be encouraged to apply as a team.​The fellowship includes a training component where the fellows are  exposed  to different debates in conservation and coexistence, and provided with the skills necessary for trans-disciplinary fieldwork. Following the training period, the fellows are assigned mentors (from within the consortium) who will guide them throughout their fellowship. ​

The fellowship commences with a two month in-person training module at TDU where the fellows are exposed to various disciplines and skills that are required to lead conservation projects. The disciplines vary from quantitative ecology to qualitative social science and the skills range from literature review to stakeholder negotiations and project management. The fellows also have a short field trip to understand the complexities of human-widllfie interactions in the real world. 


The fellows are selected based on the application and an interview.  For applicants from a rural background, an undergraduate degree is desirable. For urban applicants, a masters degree is desirable. The fellowship cannot be availed by candidates as part of their doctoral research. 


The duration of the fellowship is two years. The scope of the fellowship includes research (any discipline) or action/intervention based on coexistence values and philosophy. Selected fellows will get a project preparation grant for a period of two months to develop their proposed project after field visits and stakeholder consultations. Projects must be approved by local communities by obtaining free, prior and informed consent that is recorded in writing, orally or in audio/video formats.  

Image by Richa Sharma

Meet The Team

Dr. Atul Kumar Gupta

Dr. Atul Kumar Gupta, as an IFS Officer (1982 batch) served as PCCF & HOFF with the forest department, Government of Tripura before superannuating in 2018. He also served as Chief Wildlife Warden, Member Secretary, Tripura Biodiversity Board, Vice Chairman, Medicinal Plants Board of Tripura, as CEO&PD: KfW & GIZ led Indo-German Project and also handled Biodiversity Conservation component of the JICA project. Dr. Gupta also served Registrar & Professor & Head, Department of PMCR at the WII and Deputy Director (Wildlife), MOEF, GOI. Post-superannuation, Dr. Gupta served as Senior Professional Fellow at WII, Dehradun.


Dr. Gupta is Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. He is also M.Sc. in Zoology, M. A. in Sociology, M. Sc. (Forestry & Allied Subjects), Masters in Business Administration, Post Graduate Diploma in Wildlife Management, and has undergone course in Environmental Conservation and Forest Policy from IIM, Bangalore & Maxwell School of Management, Syracuse, USA.


Dr Gupta has about 40 years of administrative experience and field-based experience in planning, formulation, negotiation, implementation, collective decision-making, consultation processes, forging effective partnerships with collaborators, beneficiaries and relevant academic & professional institutions. He has handled and completed several uni- and multi-disciplinary national and international (USFWS, WWF, UNDP, GEF, KfW, GIZ, etc.) projects and consultancies on Conservation, Management and Sustainable Utilization of Natural Resources, Biodiversity conservation, Human Wildlife Conflicts, etc.


Currently, Dr. Gupta is engaged as Professor, Honorary Director, Registrar and Dean at University of Trans-disciplinary Health Sciences and Technology at Bengaluru.

Dr. Aritra Kshettry

Dr. Aritra Kshettry has a post-graduate degree from the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and a Doctoral Degree from the Centre for Wildlife Studies affiliated to Manipal Academy of Higher Education. His doctoral research was supported by the INSPIRE Program of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India.

Dr. Aritra Kshettry has been working in the field of human-wildlife coexistence since 2013 to understand how charismatic fauna such as leopards and elephants can share space with people in shared landscapes. Particularly, his interests lie in understanding the socio-ecology of shared spaces between people and wildlife. Aritra has been working at the grassroots level in enabling safer shared spaces between people and large mammals and has also been instrumental in drafting national-level policies and resournces on human-wildlife conflict mitigation. He has worked with organizations such as the Indian Institute of Science, GIZ-MoEFCC Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation Project, and Wildlife Conservation Society-India and has received several National and International grants and awards for his work. Aritra has authored several important peer-reviewed publications in the domain of human-wildlife coexistence.


Currently, Aritra is the lead of Elephant Conservation at WWF-India.

Dr. Tarsh Thekaekara

Tarsh is a researcher-conservationist interested in more human inclusive models of nature conservation. He co-founded The Shola Trust in 2008, The Real Elephant Collective (a non-profit company) in 2015, and am affiliated with Dakshin Foundation and the National Centre for Biological Sciences. His main area of research and intervention include work on Lantana camara, primarily looking at how communities can use the invasive plant in various ways. He is also particularly interested in how people and elephants share space, and finding ways to minimise negative interactions. Most of his work is in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (across Tamilnadu, Kerala and Karnataka), but he is also keen on promoting human-wildlife coexistence at more national and global scales.

Dr. Samira Agnihotri

The overarching theme of Samira’s research is ‘listening ecology,’ which aims to draw attention to diverse voices – human and non-human, and in doing so, encourage people to listen more -- to the sounds of nature around them, and to each other. Her work crosses disciplinary boundaries, from birdsong and ecology and bioacoustics to anthropology and linguistics. This work is embedded in the eco-cultural landscape of the BR Hills, where she has worked in collaboration with the Soliga people, for 18 years.


Dhee is a researcher interested in the human dimensions of wildlife conservation, specifically the psychological and socio-cultural factors that shape people's perceptions towards wild animals. She has an MSc in Conservation Biology (2018) from School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent and a BA in Psychology (2015) from Ambedkar University, Delhi. Her graduate study was supported by Inlaks Ravishankaran Fellowship. 

Dhee has worked on numerous wildlife research and conservation projects with multiple organizations including Wildlife Conservation Society, ATREE and Center for Wildlife Studies. She is curious about human-wildlife entanglements and how they shape and get shaped by stories, social institutions, cultures and histories.Her work so far includes studying human-leopard interactions in Himachal Pradesh and documenting the worship of Waghoba, a big cat deity, in the context of human-leopard interaction in Maharashtra. These studies have been published in peer reviewed journals such as People and Nature and Frontiers in Conservation. 

Dhee is currently the programme manager for the Coexistence Fellowship Programme, which is part of the Human-Wildlife Coexistence Cell at TDU. 

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