Science in the wilderness: The predicament of scientific research in India's wildlife reserves.
Ecology and allied scientific disciplines aim to understand patterns and processes pertaining to wild species, their ecosystems and their relationships with humans. India’s wildlife reserves are important ‘living laboratories’ for these disciplines. Today, there is a disturbing trend across India where scientists are increasingly denied access to wildlife reserves for scientific research or are seriously impeded, without scope for redress. Although official wildlife management rhetoric emphasizes the need for scientific research, in reality, it is viewed as undesirable and permitted, if at all, as a concession, subject to the discretion of individual forest officials. With no enabling legislative or policy framework to promote and apply science in our wildlife reserves, we are concerned that the future of many scientific disciplines in India is being jeopardized. Here, we provide an analysis of this issue and outline steps needed to promote scientific research in our natural areas.