Himani is a Biological Anthropologist working as a postdoctoral researcher with Howard University, Washington DC, USA, and the National Institute of Advanced Studies, India. It is a well-known fact that habitat loss, due to anthropogenic activity, is a key factor driving the decline of many wildlife across the globe. The conservation of such species is possible only with the coexistence of people and wildlife. In the past seven years of her field research in the higher Himalayas, she strived towards developing a multidisciplinary approach as a means to identify and predict the critical factors driving distinct threats to biodiversity as well as to local communities. This helped her devise a one-of-a-kind paradigm for animal-human coexistence using primates (Himalayan Langur, which is a virtually unknown species) as a model since they are the ideal species for behavior studies. Based on her research, she has already started mitigation practices to facilitate the coexistence of locals and wild animals.
John Muir wrote to her sister in 1873 “Mountains are calling and I must go, and I will work on while I can, studying incessantly.” The phrase, abbreviated to its first seven words, signifies a plethora of emotions for adventure lovers. Virendra is one of them, but he looked at the full phrase. Virendra completed his BS-MS degree from IISER Mohali with a biology major. He studied the sleeping site choice of the Central Himalayan Langurs (Semnopithecus schistaceus) for his masters thesis. This project also became the stepping stone for his understanding of the vital parts that regulate the nexus of human habitation, wildlife habitats, and conservation of the Himalayan ecosystem. He also carried an exploratory study on the ecology of Chamba Sacred Langur (Semnopithecus ajax) where he learnt more about human-wildlife interaction. He is currently pursuing his doctoral degree from the University of Toronto, under the supervision of Prof Julie Teichroeb. While studying the sleeping site pattern, he figured that there is a predictability in the travel patterns of langurs and the routes they choose. The aim of his doctoral project is to investigate the movement strategies of Himalayan langurs, naturally – as governed by the seasonality in the distribution of resources in their home range, and experimentally with the use of feeding arrays. He is interested in building bottom-up measures to promote wildlife-human coexistence (broadly) and human-primate coexistence (specifically) by focusing on the movement ecology of the wild animal species. He joined the Himalayan Langur Project in 2018 as a masters student and has since collaborated with Dr. Nautiyal, and joined forces with her to conduct community outreach activities as a part of their research goals. They have carried on regular classes for the children of the local community, and engaged in plantation activities with the local kids.
Elizabeth is a Bioanthropology PhD Candidate at Indiana University in the PEEL Lab. Elizabeth has studied and worked with a variety of alloprimates (Alouatta sp., Papio ursinus, Macaca fascicularis, Macaca mulatta, Semnopithecus schistaceus, Pan troglodytes) for 10 years and consequentially developed an interest in studying health and development. Moreover, she has grown a particular love for folivores and Asian monkey species, who are considerably understudied in comparison to their African and South American counterparts. She also focuses her energy towards understanding alternative narratives and utilizes bioethical and ethnoprimatological theory within her research. These interests and experiences have led her to the Himalayan Langur Project, where she is conducting her PhD research on the behavioral and physiological development of S. schistaceus mother-infant dyads in anthropogenic landscapes, and explores community narratives.
Diganta Mandal is a Biological Anthropology PhD student at the Department of Anthropology of Indiana University, Bloomington, and a member of the Primate Environmental Endocrinology Lab (PEEL). Diganta graduated with his MSc in Biotechnology from St. Xavier’s College in 2022. He started his research journey studying how biogeographical barriers and anthropogenic activities impact the genetic diversity in Asian Elephant populations of NE India for his MSc under Aaranyak, Assam. Diganta now works with the Himalayan Langur Project and has been contributing to the long-term behavioural study of the Himalayan Langur. Diganta’s current research is focused on how anthropogenic activities and biogeographical barriers affect the genetic diversity and stress-levels of wild and human-habituated Himalayan Langur populations. Apart from that, Diganta is interested in cognitive studies and vocalization of African and Asian monkeys.
Soumalya is a 23 year old post-grad in Biotechnology from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata. His love for the nature and ecological sciences had compelled him to do his master’s dissertation on Community Ecology which he synthesised in his thesis named Variation in Functional Traits in Tropical Dry Forests of Eastern Ghats from LaCONES-CCMB. But it was always his desire to work in the midst of the Himalayas and to work on primate behavior going forward. The Himalyan Langur Project is like a dream design for him which covers everything starting from exploring the rich and diverse world of Central Himalyan Langurs and at the same time working alongside the local community with its rich culture and unique way of life.
From a young age, Ryan knew he was destined to work with animals in some form. It wasn’t until he came into close contact with chimpanzees and later in high school history class where he would see documentaries on Jane Goodall and other primatologists that he knew primatology was his future. Ryan attained his B.Sc in Biological Anthropology with a minor in Psychology at the University of Calgary. There he would take courses focusing on primate behaviour and primate research at zoos until going to Belize for field training where he would study Howler Monkeys (Alouatta pigra) for a month to observe their behaviour, feeding habits, and understanding the ecology surrounding them. Ryan’s interests still greatly focus on behaviour and he tries to observe injuries and their outcomes when possible. When Ryan is not focaling, he loves to photograph the lives of the langurs. Ryan looks forward to learning more skills related to project design, local community interaction, and setting up behavioural experiments for wild primates before going onto his Masters.
Having just finished her master’s in life sciences from IISER Berhampur and a handful of laboratory life studying evolutionary immunology and life history events in drosophila melanogaster, she knew her calling wasn’t in the labs anymore but out there in the fields. A chance meeting with the Himalayan Langur Project was what brought her to Mandal Valley in Uttarakhand, the field site of HLP to study Himalayan Langurs for the very first time from her origins in the jungles of Jharkhand and coasts of Odisha. She joined HLP to pick up on her interest in studying the interactions of wild primates with their habitat and human society around them. She wants to build a world of stories to be told from the academic sciences to the indigenous folk lores studying cultural ecology with the human-wildlife crosstalk
Professor, George Washington University
Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies