Surendra Varma completed his Masters degree in Wildlife Biology from Bharathidasan University in Trichanapally, Tamil Nadu, in 1988. Since then he has been working on the conservation of elephants and other large mammals. From 1988 to 1995 he worked on large mammal population numbers and demography and habitat usage in the tropical mixed deciduous forests of Mudumalai, Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu. Mr Varma joined ANCF in 1998 as a researcher and was involved in studies on elephants in southern India and Myanmar, estimating elephant numbers, mapping habitat, reviewing the status of human-elephant conflict and elephant poaching. From 2000 – 2002 he worked on a study of large mammal population density and distribution in Bandipur National Park and a study of the status and conservation of the Asian elephant in Vietnam. From 2002 – 2006 he worked on Asian elephant population status and migratory corridors for elephants in North East India ,more specifically in Kameng Elephant Reserve, Pakke Tiger Reserve and Namdhapa National Park in Arunachal Pradesh.
From 2002 to 2009 Mr. Varma worked on the study of the ecology, conservation and management of the Asian elephant in Bannerghetta National Park, Karnataka. From 2005 – 2011 he led a study of the management and welfare of captive elephants across twelve states in India. In 2006 carried out a study on the application of camera trap technology in wildlife studies. In 2010 – 2011 he was ANCF’s Principal Investigator for a study on human – elephant conflict in the Mysore Forest Division. In 2011-12 Mr. Varma is involved in ANCF’s study estimating the population of Asian Elephants in Uttarakhand. He has been actively involved in carrying out capacity building in conducting elephant census operations, habitat mapping and survey techniques for conservation researchers and policy makers from India and Southeast Asian countries. His work in Myanmar led to the identification of the first elephant reserve for the country. Mr Varma has been a key researcher at ANCF from the organization’s inception.