Sanjeeta Sharma Pokharel

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Post Doc
Name: Sanjeeta Sharma Pokharel

Research interests: Wildlife endocrinology, Conservation physiology and Elephant biology

My research mainly focuses on understanding the proximate causation behind the stress physiology and how multiple ecological stressors influence the physiological health of free-ranging Asian elephants.

PhD project (2011-2017):

"Stress Physiology of Free-ranging Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus): Influence of Ecological and Anthropogenic Stressors."

Field-site: Karnataka (Bandipur National Park, Nagarahole National Park, Hassan) and Tamil Nadu (Mudumalai National Park), India

Supervisors: Prof. Raman Sukumar (CES, IISc) and Prof. P.B. Seshagiri (MRDG, IISc)

Current Postdoctoral Project (July, 2018 to March, 2020): 

Assessment of stress-response in free-ranging Asian elephants dwelling in high elephant-human conflict areas.

Field-site: West Bengal

Media coverage:

The BBC News (2017) Freeze-dried dung gives clue to Asian elephant stress.


The Hindu (2017) Elephant dung shows stress levels. 


The New Indian Express (2017) Stress affects wild Asian elephants too, reveals study by IISc student.


The Hindu (2019) Rich diet lowers stress in crop-eating elephants.


The Down to Earth Magazine (2019) Elephants' conflict of diet. Link:

The Ken Magazine (2019) When chemistry meets life: Searching for signals in elephant dung. Link:

Outreach initiatives:

Bhunte the baby elephant 



Poetry: The Divine Enigma

Opinions: Speak Up!

Popular articles:

Learning from the locals. The Santuary Asia (

When an elephant dies. The Current Conservation (

Selected Publications: 

Pokharel SS, Seshagiri PB, Sukumar R.(2017) Assessment of season-dependent body condition scores in relation to faecal glucocorticoid metabolites in free-ranging Asian elephants. Conservation Physiology 5: cox039 (

Pokharel SS, Seshagiri PB, Sukumar R.(2018) Lower levels of glucocorticoids in crop-raiders: Diet quality as a potential ‘pacifier’ against stress in free-ranging Asian elephants in a human-production habitat. Animal Conservation. (

Pokharel SS, Seshagiri PB, Sukumar R.(2019) Influence of the number of calves and lactating-adult females in a herd on the adrenocortical activity of free-ranging Asian elephants (

Sharma N, Pokharel SS, Kohshima S, Sukumar R (2019) Behavioural responses of free-ranging Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) towards dying and dead conspecifics. Primates (


1. Presidential Medal ‘Nepal Vidya Bhushan’ Category A by the President of Nepal (Government of Nepal) for PhD work (September, 2018)

2. International Arbor Assays and International Society of Wildlife Endocrinology Travel Grant Award (August, 2017)

3. International PhD Fellowship by International Relations Cell, Indian Institute of Science and Central Government of India, from 2011-2017 (July, 2011)

4. University Gold Medal for ranking first in Master of Environmental Science (2008-2010)

5. Silver Jubilee Scholarship by Government of India and Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) for Master degree (2008)

6. The Bahini Fund Scholarship-USA for meritorious girl students (2002)

Raman Sukumar