Archives of Contemporary India

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K. Ullas Karanth Papers

K. Ullas Karanth Papers

"When I began my career as a tiger biologist with WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) in the 1980s, my biggest challenge was to count these rare and elusive tigers in Malenad. It was then that I hit upon the idea of “trapping” tigers on film using automated cameras, triggered by the passing cats. Because each tiger’s stripe pattern is uniquely identifiable, like barcodes on library books, I was able to count them using the photos. Over time, these tiger counts were meshed with sophisticated statistical methods … This method is now known as photographic capture-recapture sampling."

Dr. K. Ullas Karanth (born 1948) is a conservation zoologist and a leading tiger expert.

He is the Founder and Emeritus Director of Centre for Wildlife Studies, Bengaluru, Karnataka. Although originally trained as a mechanical engineer at the National Institute of Technology, Karnataka, Ullas Karanth was fascinated by wildlife since childhood. He founded the Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS) in 1984. Inspired by Dr. George Schaller of WCS, Dr. Ullas decided to become a professionally trained wildlife biologist. He obtained Master’s degree from the University of Florida (1988) and Doctorate from Mangalore University (1993). He was selected by Dr. Schaller to establish its India Program in 1988, where he continued to work as a Senior Conservation Scientist until 2018. Dr. Karanth has adjunct teaching faculty status at NCBS-TIFR, Bangalore and at the Departments of Wildlife Biology, at the University of Florida and University of Minnesota. Besides, he also guides doctoral candidates at Manipal University, Karnataka.

He has served as a member of the Forest Advisory Committee and the Governing Council of the Wildlife Institute of India, Government of India, and Wildlife Advisory Board, Karnataka Government. He was a Vice-President of the Bombay Natural History Society. His work has been extensively featured in world media including National Geographic, BBC, Discovery and Animal Planet, etc.

Dr. Karanth has conducted pioneering long-time research on the ecology of tigers and other large mammals. He has published over 150 scientific articles in various journals and authored The Way of the Tiger (2001), A view from the Machan (2006) and co-edited Monitoring Tigers and their Prey (2002), Camera Traps in Animal Ecology (2010), and Methods for Monitoring Tiger and Prey Populations (2017).

In recognition of his contribution to wildlife conservation, Dr. Karanth has been honoured with several awards including Sanctuary Lifetime Achievement Award (2007), Bombay Natural History Society’s Salim Ali National Award for Conservation (2008) and the George Schaller Award of the Wildlife Conservation Society (2019).

He received the Rajyotsava Prashasti from Karnataka Government in 2010, and Padma Shri in 2011.

About the Collection: The papers of Dr. K. Ullas Karanth relating to wildlife conservation comprises his correspondence with Central and State Governments, National Tiger Conservation Authority, forest officials, conservationists and environmentalists. Besides these, there are papers on tiger conservation projects, wildlife legal matters, tiger mapping reports, camera-trapping negatives, copies of contracts, annual reports, MoUs and agreements with government and non-governmental organisations. The collection reflects the scientific approach with regard to sustainable conservation of forest and nature, restoration of habitats, enhancement of ecosystem and protection of biological diversity. The Ullas Karanth papers are an invaluable source material for researchers and students of environmental science.

Donor: Dr. K. Ullas Karanth
Acquisition: 2019, 2020 & 2022