Case Study: DR. KASHMIRA KAKATI
Born and brought up in Assam, Dr. Kashmira Kakati is a Wildlife Biologist working towards safeguarding a patch of 500 km² of rainforest in Jeypore-Dehing lowlands which includes Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam. She completed her post-graduation from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun and her doctoral studies from Cambridge University on ‘The Impact of Forest Fragmentation on Hoolock Gibbons in Assam’. Kashmira then took a break between 2002 and 2007 to raise her family with fellow Elephant Biologist Husband, Dr. Christy Williams. After coming back to eld, Dr. Kakati started working on a carnivore project in the forests of Jeypore-Dehing where she discovered that the forest patch of Jeypore-Dehing was home to seven species of wildcats and multiple other species of carnivores as well. Some of the rare fauna that was captured during the study included the Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), Marbled Cat (Pardofelismarmorata), and Golden Cat (Catopuma temminckii). Her project which was initially only phased for a couple of months, after the discovery of the extensive faunal diversity was extended for two years to study it extensively. And her project was supported by Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), Wildlife Conservation Society – India, Ruord Small Grants Foundation, Forest Department and the government of Assam. Collectively her study documented 45 dierent mammalian species in the forests of Jeypore-Dehing, which brought about the required public and media support to protect the landscape from future threats.
Dr. Kakati’s eorts towards the conservation of the forests of Jeypore-Dehing have directly helped in supporting the local community who has lived in this landscape since a long time. Before she carried out the carnivore project, the overall status of Jeypore-Dehing was degrading with heavy logging, mining and clearing of forests taking place and harming the local community. Due to heavy extraction of resources from the forests, oodwaters would erode and wash o parts of the forest.
Dr. Kakati’s contribution to ecological restoration of the forests of Jeypore-Dehing did not directly aect the economic value of the community or the region, but it did increase the invaluable ecosystem services attached to restoration of forests such as soil formation, water purication, ood regulation, carbon sequestration, climate regulation, purication of water and air, and also control of pests and diseases.
Camera Trapping work carried out by Dr. Kashmira Kakati resulted in the discovery of seven wild cats and multiple other rare fauna at the forests of Jeypore-Dehing: Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), Marbled Cat (Pardofelis marmorata), Golden Cat (Catopuma temminckii), Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris), Indian leopard (Panthera pardus), Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), Jungle Cat (Felis chaus), Dhole (Cuon alpinus), Malayan Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus), Binturong (Arctictis binturong) and also various other species of mongooses, otters and civets. Her work also resulted in the rst camera-trap record of Small-toothed Palm Civet (Arctogalida trivirgata) from India.