Ishwar Prakash did his DSc (1983) from University of Rajasthan, Jaipur. He was Coordinator and Principal Animal Ecologist (1977-80), Professor of Eminence (1980-91) and INSA Senior Scientist (1992) at Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur.
Academic and Research Achievements: Professor Prakash carried out pioneering research on the ecology of desert vertebrates, environmental analysis and desertification. His researches ranged from faunistic studies to biochemical communication among desert rodents, physiology of desert survival and wildlife conservation to rodent pest management. Dr Prakash did extensive work on rodents, their seed preferences and identified their predators which include reptiles, birds and mammals. Based on his research of the ecology and behavior of rodents, effective measures for rodent control have been developed to be adopted at the community level. One of the most important research achievement of Dr Prakash was that Rodentology has been recognized as a distinct agricultural subject for teaching and operational research. He worked as a Coordinator of the National Programme for Rodent Pest Management. In addition to his accomplishments in rodent research, for which he was referred to as the ‘Father of Rodentology’ in India, Dr Prakash was an authority on desert fauna in general. His pioneering research on insectivores, primates, chiropterans and carnivores inhabiting the region, is well-recognized. He found lower metabolic rate in desert mammals that minimizes the moisture loss during breathing. Fossorial as well as nocturnal habit helps these small mammals to survive in this harsh arid climate. He found littering activity to synchronize with the monsoon season. The favorable environment during this period helps in survival of these litters. His observations on feeding behaviour were equally spectacular. He found most of the mammals to be omnivores. This helped them to cope with the paucity of the feeding material during drought. For example the carnivores turn frutivores during availability of fruits, while seedivores rodents start feeding on insects during scarcity periods. He was an authority on desert ecology. He devoted himself to study of the Thar Deset Environment and his research work ranged from ecology of the desert vertebrates, especially mammals, biochemical communication among small mammals, rodent pest management, wildlife conservation; to the desertification processes and impact assessment of the biotic pressure on the xeric resources research work. He authored/edited 17 books and monographs.
Other Contributions: Prakash established the discipline of rodentology on a firm basis in the country; also established schools of learning on desert vertebrates, rodent pest management, wildlife ecology, and biochemical communication. He was editor of Annals of Arid Zone and also served on the Editorial Board of Journal of Arid Environments. He was Member of the FAO Panel on Vertebrate Pests and Rodents; IUCN Group of Conservation Specialists; National Committee on Problems of Environment (SCOPE); and on many other technical committees of CSIR, ICAR, DST, Ministry of Environment and Forest, UGC, Rajasthan Wildlife Board, Bombay Natural History Society, etc. He was Member, INSA Council (1989-91).
Awards and Honours: Professor Prakash won the Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Memorial Prize of ICAR (1975); and Har Swaroop Memorial Lecture Award of INSA (1991). He was elected Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad and National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi; and Foreign Fellow, International Theriological Congress, and Russian Academy of Sciences.