82: Community-based conservation in north-east India with Aparajita Datta

In this episode, Divya spoke with Aparajita Datta, a senior scientist at the Nature Conservation Foundation, a non-governmental research organization based in Bangalore, India. Aparajita is known for her work on community-based hornbill conservation in the northeastern part of India. Her main research interests include plant-animal interactions in rainforests, understanding anthropogenic effects on wildlife, and engaging with the tribal communities in conservation. In this episode, she shares her experience of trying to carry out inclusive conservation and the roles that partnerships with multiple stakeholders play in the process. Aparajita’s work is a bit unusual; she is one of those rare scholars who have been striving to translate her research on the ground. But conducting action-oriented research comes at a cost, and it is evident from Aparajita’s narrative as she shares her experience of getting emotionally attached to the tribal community she has been working with, while facing skepticism from some, and yet having the grit to keep persevering as she goes back and forth through the complex emotions of feeling both disheartened and inspired in her work. She now believes after 20 years, that doing research is more satisfying and easy than on-ground conservation, and that reconciliation between wildlife and people is not always possible.