Dr Nishant Kumar

Research Interests

My research focuses on human-animal coexistence in the Global South, with a particular emphasis on the complex interplay between urban ecology, cognitive and cultural dynamics in animals, and socio-cultural practices linked with animals. Our research group explores the movement and behavioral patterns of opportunistic animals in urbanising environments and their impact on demographic outcomes and ecosystem services. Our cross-institutional platform, PAWS-Web, is dedicated to building "the Science of Tropical Cities" and enhancing ecosystem integrity in rapidly urbanizing regions. Our work is guided by the One Health principle, where we investigate the relationship between animal populations, behavioural/disease contagions, and human/animal health while taking into account the cultural traditions of feeding and protecting non-human animals in many developing countries. Our ultimate goal is to provide scientific insights that support the coexistence of humans and animals in a sustainable and harmonious way.

Additional information:

I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Delhi (Sri Venkateswara College) in 2011 before receiving an institutional scholarship from the Government of India to pursue a postgraduate degree in Wildlife Science at the Wildlife Institute of India. After completing my M.Sc. dissertation, which laid the foundation for the Black Kite Project, I joined Oxford University as a Felix Scholar to pursue my DPhil (2014-19), where I studied the urban ecology and ethno-ornithology of the resident and migratory populations of Black Kites. 

From 2019-22, I continued to build upon the Black Kite Project, which is now a long-term study in its 11th year of continuous monitoring. With the support of the India Oxford Initiative (IndOx), I have also expanded my research to include other urban animals, leading to the formation of the PAWS - Web group. In January 2023, I was awarded an early career fellowship grant by the DBT/Wellcome Trust UK India Alliance, which will be jointly based at the Wildlife Institute of India (primary host) and Oxford's Department of Biology (overseas host) for the next five years. As part of this fellowship, I also serve as a member of India Oxford Initiative's Executive and Strategy Boards.

Funding agencies: 

  1. University of Oxford: Felix Scholarship Trust; India Oxford Initiative; Somerville College; Mansfield College.
  2. Raptor Research & Conservation Foundation, Mumbai
  3. DBT/Wellcome Trust UK India Alliance 
  4.  Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (Wildlife Institute of India), Government of India
  5. Department of Forest and Wildlife (Government of NCT of Delhi) and the Indian Air Force.
  6. Microwave Telemetry, Inc. USA