Anthropology Major Alex O'Neill has been awarded the Fulbright-Nehru Research Fellowship for a project entitled “Saving Shangri-la: Conservation of Sikkim’s High-altitude Wetlands.” High-altitude wetlands are areas of saturated land above 9, 000 feet in elevation, where water is present year-round. They are fed by melting glaciers and serve as catchments for South Asia’s great rivers—the Ganges, Indus, and Bhramaputra.
However climate change, unregulated tourism, and resource extraction are transforming these vital ecosystems. Using interview, digital media, and remotely sensed images, Alex plans on recording how livelihoods and traditional environmental relationships have been affected by Indian development projects and natural resource extraction. He will be consolidating indigenous testimony as it relates to both traditional ecological relationships and ecosystem change to create a record that both informs ongoing conservation efforts and promotes wetland awareness in Northern India.