skip to primary navigation skip to content

Trishant Simlai BSc, MSc

PhD Student, Department of Geography and Selwyn College

Conservation researcher primarily interested in the politics and geographies of wildlife conservation in India.

I have been working in the field of conservation for close to a decade at the international, national and local scales. I am primarily interested in the rising discourse of conservation militarization and its socio-political implications. I am also interested in the way conservation is practiced in violent environments and links between the illegal wildlife trade and armed conflicts. I also have a very keen interest in animal geographies outside traditional protected areas and in human dominated landscapes.



  • Founder Member at Kumaon Maati, Uttarakhand, India (2017-Present)
  • Project Consultant at Aaranyak, Assam, India (2016-2017)
  • Project Consultant at Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), Gujarat, India (2014-2016)
  • Support Officer and Consultant at the United Nations Environment Program- World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), Cambridge, UK (2013-2014)
  • Project Officer and Research Biologist at Tiger Watch, Ranthambore, India (2011-2012)
  • Research Assistant at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent, UK (Jun 2010-Aug 2010)
  • Research Biologist at Wildlife Research and Conservation Society (WRCS), Pune, India (2008-2009)
  • Camp Instructor and Wildlife Resource Person at Pugmarks Eco Tours and Ecologics, Pune, India. (2002-2008)


  • PhD Candidate in Geography, University of Cambridge (2017-Present)
  • MSc Conservation and Rural Development (Distinction), University of Kent (2012-2013)
    Dissertation: Spatial Conservation Prioritization of Grassland Ecosystems in Maharashtra, India.
  • BSc Wildlife Conservation and Management (hons), University of Kent (2009-2012)
    Dissertation: Predicting Human Wildlife Conflict using a Maximum Entropy Approach.

Funding awards and prizes​

  • Department of Geography, University Fieldwork Grant, Selwyn College
  • WILDCRU Conservation Geopolitics Full Bursary Award
  • The Maurice Swingland Prize awarded to the best postgraduate student taught at the master’s level in the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, UK.
  • Highly Commended Talk at the Student Conference on Conservation Science, Brisbane, Australia 2015
  • Highly Commended Poster at the Student Conference on Conservation Science, Cambridge 2014
  • Best Poster, Second runner up at the Student Conference on Conservation Science, Bangalore 2012


PhD research: provisional title- Negotiating the Gaze: People, Power, and Conservation Surveillance in the Corbett Tiger Reserve, India.

In recent years, the use of new and existing surveillance technologies in the practice of conservation has increased rapidly. This includes the use of drones, camera traps, satellite and thermal imagery for activities such as wildlife monitoring, anti-poaching, and law enforcement.

In many respects, surveillance is constitutive of modern society, especially in urban spaces (Lyon 1995) where its use has been widely discussed. In the conservation context, surveillance intensifies the demarcation of spaces between nature and people by intensifying territorialization (Adams 2017), and it has been suggested that it could impact the well-being of local stakeholders in various ways (Sandbrook 2015, Sandbrook et al 2018). However, the social and political implications of surveillance technologies in conservation and natural resource management remain an underexplored field of empirical inquiry.

Drawing from 13 months of ethnographic fieldwork in the Corbett Tiger Reserve, India, my Ph.D. research unpacks and explores the social and political implications of a wide range of surveillance technologies on local communities, conservation labour, and on conservation governance.

I argue that these technologies are used to establish multiple surveillance regimes, resulting in several environmentalities and in the production of disciplined people, wildlife, and spaces. These regimes exacerbate already prevalent social injustices and structural inequalities of gender, caste, and class discrimination, resulting in mistrust and negative perceptions of local communities towards conservation policies.


Selected publications

Popular media publications

Book chapters

  • Punjabi,G. and Simlai, T. Bhimashankar- Shiva’s forest. Wild Maharashtra, Sanctuary Asia Publication 2012


  • Simlai, T., Khandal, D., Rathod, P. Nerlekar, A., Kulkarni, K., Jha, R. et al. 2010. A preliminary survey of the Indian wolf in the ravines of the greater Ranthambore landscape. Report submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Rajasthan, India.


  • Supervisor, Part II Paper: Conservation Science, Nat Sci Tripos, Department of Zoology (MT 2019)
  • Supervisor, Part II Paper: Political Ecology in the Global South, Geography Tripos, Department of Geography (MT 2019, LT 2020)

External activities

  • Member, IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA)
  • Postgraduate Fellow, Royal Geographic Society
  • Co-President, The Cambridge South Asia Forum (CAMSAF)