Wildlife explorer, Anusha Shankar, shares nuggets about her birds research

Chennai: In India, many students prefer Engineering or Medicine as a career. But, have you thought of becoming an ecologist? Have you imagined how will it be to explore forests and study wild animals? This is what Anusha Shankar does for a living.

An ecologist and a National Geographic explorer by profession, Anusha has done extensive research on humming birds for over seven years. She is also one of the speakers taking part in the upcoming TEDxChennai event to be held 10 March.

Speaking to News Today, Anusha says she was born in Pune but moved to Chennai for her education. Eventually, she settled in the US to pursue her Ph.D in Ecology and Evolution.

Anusha’s love for animals and plants sparked when she interned with the Wildlife Trust of India. “I spent six weeks in the forests of Assam following a female Hoolock Gibbon who was being rehabilitated into the wild,” she recalls.

“I was hooked. Living alone in a jungle was hard but I loved the challenge.”

This fuelled her to do more internships. “The world of wildlife ecology is fascinating and there is so much to be discovered.”


When Anusha received the Young Explorer’s Grant from National Geographic, it gave her an opportunity to explore and conduct research on humming birds. “I’ve spent a year in the Ecuadorian Andes, studying how humming birds balance their daily energetic needs,” she says.

“They are tiny and use energy very fast. They burn up the food they eat within an hour or two of consumption. Managing to stay alive is a challenge. I wanted to know how they did it.”

Anusha will be speaking in length about this at TEDxChennai.


Anusha talks about the opportunities as ecologist/environmentalist. “I wish more people consider a career in science. Also, ecology and environmental sciences will become increasingly essential professions, if we want to tackle pollution,” she says.

“I am excited by what I do because I get to ask a lot of questions about the world around me. There are no textbooks to give answers. I have to find them. It is among the toughest and exciting things about being a scientist in general.”


Anusha is a strong advocate of promoting science. “The first step is not to be scared about talking science wherever you go,” she says. “People like animals, and there are always interesting facts you can tell to get them excited.” She goes on to add that, one of the best places to get new ideas is from children. “They are boundlessly curious,” says Anusha.

Reach her at www.anushashankar.weebly.com

Mohammed Rayaan