I Am Krithi Karanth
Photograph by Sandesh Kadur, National Geographic
My name is Dr. Krithi K. Karanth and I live in Bangalore, India. My research in India has spanned 17 years and encompasses a broad range of issues examining human dimensions of wildlife conservation in seven states across India, with a particular focus on the Western Ghats.
I have conducted research on mammal extinctions, the impacts of wildlife tourism in reserves, socio-ecological consequences of voluntary resettlement, and, more recently, on understanding human-wildlife conflicts and assessing biodiversity outside parks. My projects have trained over 500 citizen scientists in field methods across more than 25 research and conservation projects.
I have published over 65 articles and blog posts, including several for National Geographic. I was honored to be National Geographic Society's 10,000th grantee in 2011 and was selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2012. I have a Ph.D. in environmental science and policy from Duke University, a master's in environmental science from Yale University, and B.S. and B.A. degrees from the University of Florida.
People I Meet
Photograph by Ullas Karanth
Tigers have been and continue to be culturally and religiously integral to India. Huli means “tiger” in Kannada, the language of the Karnataka. A traditional tiger dance is performed by groups of men and children during the Dasara festival every October. This has its roots in the South Kanara and Udupi districts of Karnataka. The performers elaborately paint their bodies to look like tigers—and sometimes leopards or other wildlife. They dance to the hypnotic beat of drummers during this festival, traveling through several villages over the course of the ten days and often getting observers to participate.
Food I Eat
Photograph by Prakash Matada
The Chikmagalur and Kodagu districts of the Ghats constitute the largest coffee-growing region in India. Coffee is thought to have been brought to the Baba Budan Giri hills in Chikmagalur over 350 years ago. The stunning landscapes house several homestays that serve exquisite local Malenadu food and allow visitors to experience coffee picking. The area also provides opportunities for birding, hiking, rock climbing, and rafting and is located close to majestic temples of Belur and Halebeedu. I recommend the Woodway and Thotadahalli homestays in Chikmagalur for their excellent food, hospitality, and comfortable quarters.
Traveling in India
Photograph by Nirmal Kulkarni, ephotocorp/Alamy Stock Photo
I am an avid traveler and have been to almost 40 countries. I love experiencing new cultures, tasting new food, and trying new things. Every place I have been to makes me more aware of how little of the world I know. One of my life’s ambitions is to see as many countries as possible. Work has taken me to thousands of villages and jungles across India. Around Bhadra people go birding, hiking, mountain climbing, and white-water rafting. During the course of our fieldwork, people have invited us to their homes and shared their stories, food, and drink—even when they had little for themselves. I have been humbled by the generosity and people’s willingness to share their lives with us, even if for a brief moment.
Where I Stay
Photograph by Ullas Karanth
The Hulikanu Field Station, operated by the Centre for Wildlife Studies, is located near Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary. Throughout the year, the research station houses field staff, volunteers, students, and visitors, all of whom participate in research projects, education, professional development, capacity building, and training activities run by the Centre for Wildlife Studies and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s India Program. Over the past 25 years, these institutions have trained and educated more than 500 park staff, 4,000 citizen science volunteers, 200 research staff, 2,000 schoolchildren, and a hundred graduate and undergraduate students from across the world.
What I See
Photograph by Kalyan Varma
A global biodiversity hotspot and UNESCO World Heritage site, the Western Ghats of southwestern India are home to some of the densest tiger and elephant populations in the world. These mountain ranges are home to over 9,200 species of plants, 6,000 insects, 500 birds, 300 fishes, 180 amphibians, and 140 mammals. Endemics such as the lion-tailed macaque, Malabar civet, and great pied hornbill are found nowhere else on Earth. My work has examined distributions of species inside and outside protected reserves, human-wildlife conflicts, tourism, voluntary resettlement of people, and land-use change around long-term field sites including Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, Dandeli-Anshi National Park, Kudremukh National Park, and Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary. Major conservation challenges in this landscape—which is home to 20 million people—include illegal hunting and poaching of wildlife and large scale land-use change driven by construction of roads, dams, mines, wind mills, and local resource demands. Wildlife continues to persist despite these significant challenges, but now requires innovative and creative solutions to save these extraordinary places and animals in the long term.
2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
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