Saving the snow leopard: Koustubh Sharma has made protecting the endangered species his mission

FirstPost, Neerja Deodhar: Many years ago, Koustubh Sharma was finishing his PhD on the four-horned antelope in Panna Tiger Reserve in the tropical dry deciduous forests of Central India. He was working very closely with Dr Raghu Chundawat who was studying tigers, and also leading surveys on snow leopards — large, elusive creatures who inhabit cold, mountainous environments. Little did he know that several discussions about this mammal and improving the ability to assess its status in remote areas with Dr Chundawat would lead him to his first opportunity to work with them.

Sharma has been fascinated with all wildlife since childhood, but his real interest in the subject started developing in 1993, when he got an opportunity to attend a nature camp deep inside the Satpura Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. At this time, and later in life, when he started working on small projects in parts of Central India, the snow leopard was not even on the horizon. While pursuing his Master’s in Physics, he got the chance to study the birds of the Bhopal lake and visit the Bombay Natural History Society. His educational background helped him to bag opportunities in biological studies with analyses and develop computer programs to manage datasets. It was only at the end of his PhD that he was introduced to a snow leopard lair, when he was assisting in a project to improve monitoring the animal.

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