Wildlife conservation needs people from a multitude of backgrounds to come together. | Photo credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
IIncreasingly, it seems, members of the 21st century workforce are open to exploring careers deemed unorthodox just a decade ago. One area of work and activism that could use enthusiastic, efficient and passionate individuals is wildlife conservation and protection. However, wildlife conservation is more than what is “seen on TV”. It takes people from diverse backgrounds coming together to not only support animal protection, but also live in harmony with wild animals, so that India’s rich biodiversity can be conserved. Here is a list of options:
Scientist/researcher: Wildlife protection work is compromised by a lack of statistical data, a limited understanding of wild animals and their needs, an insufficient consideration of wildlife welfare and a poor understanding of the dynamics of coexistence. It requires individuals with a keen sense of curiosity, willing to ask the right questions and persevering to find the right answers, and effective strategists who could better advise on policies relating to wild animals and their habitats. A bachelor’s and master’s degree in ecological science or zoology or even wildlife science is an added advantage. The Wildlife Institute of India and the National Center for Biological Sciences offer an array of undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral courses. However, even an advanced degree in one of the sciences is an excellent foundation to build upon.
Nature educators: Who will carry the message to the public and especially to our young people? As more and more information about animal needs becomes available and we begin to understand those needs in more detail, we need people to help us communicate effectively with the public through workshops, school programs or even simple sensitization sessions targeting local communities. Many NGOs in the sector are looking for outreach workers. To pursue a career in this field, a background in basic sciences, combined with a bachelor’s or master’s degree offered by Azim Premji University, is a plus.
Social scientists: Successful conservation of wildlife and the preservation of their habitat will require a more nuanced understanding of the social dynamics and political considerations that shape the fate of animals. Social scientists play a key role in understanding the dynamics between humans and animals and in developing and delivering interventions tailored to specific animal species, human communities, and geographic regions. A bachelor’s degree in social work or development, offered by institutes like TISS, is a great catalyst. Having a postgraduate degree in the same provides training in the science of human behavior change, effective policy-making, and intelligent design of wildlife protection initiatives.
Forest Service Agents: The Government of India recruits officers for the prestigious Indian Forest Service through the Union Civil Service Commission (UPSC) Examination To pass the UPSC examination, a bachelor’s degree is a must. Keep checking for updates on this as government requirements may vary. Usually a degree in forestry helps more. One can also enter this field through a state-specific screening exam. In all cases, agents undergo rigorous training in various aspects of forest management and can play a direct and lasting role in the protection of wildlife.
Animal artists: Art and culture are powerful ways to reinforce the message of wildlife conservation and protection, in the age of social media platforms and digital marketplaces. Whether you are a storyteller or a painter or a designer or a sculptor, your passion for wildlife can radiate through whatever medium you choose to a wider audience. Artists such as Rohan Chakravarthy and Sangeetha Kadur have revolutionized science communication to the public. Institutes such as Chitra Kala Parishat and Sristhi School of Design, Bengaluru offer undergraduate or postgraduate courses in fine arts and support those who seek to hone their talents and skills in these fields.
Filmmakers: Nothing is more compelling than a powerful story. Filmmakers who can tell visually stunning stories, especially with today’s advanced technology, can win more people to care about the animals around them. The Kannada film Gandhada Gudi, showcasing the rich biodiversity of Karnataka, is one of the first films of its kind to hit theaters! Educational institutions across the country offer various courses in filmmaking techniques. To be really effective, it is better to take courses to learn the nuances and techniques such as editing, sound recording, storyboarding, etc.
These are just a few of the opportunities for those wishing to work in wildlife protection today.
The author is the Senior Director, Wildlife and Disaster Response at Humane Society International India.
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