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Jungle book

education Updated: Feb 28, 2012 11:55 IST
Hindustan Times


The lowdown
A job in wildlife conservation will require you to do all kinds of things. Conservationists research wildlife, their habitats and human interactions with the same. To do this, they need to spend part of their time in the field collecting data and analysing the same. They often work with policy makers and local communities to bring about awareness, change in social attitudes and help develop legal policies on wildlife conservation. They also carry out capacity-building programmes with authorities and communities. Some also work as professors in different universities to teach various topics under wildlife conservation. Some branches in the field are population ecology, behavioural ecology, evolutionary biology, community ecology, ecosystem services, global change, conservation law, conservation biology, landscape ecology, communication and advocacy, conservation genetics, field biology, marine biology, herpetology, ichthyology, entomology, mammology, ornithology, social aspects of conservation, conservation education etc

Average day of a conservationist while in the field
5:30am: Wake up and get ready for field visit
6:00am: Reach field site to collect data, depending on the relevant topic of interest, data collection can vary from half an hour to several hours. Depending on accessibility to field site, she/he would need to trek or drive through rough and hard terrain
1pm: Meet and hold discussions with a couple of wildlife experts over lunch - packed and carried from home
2pm: Collect data in the field
6pm: Return to field site and enter data
9pm: retire to bed
Average day of a conservationist in the office:
9am: Reach office, work on analysis of data collected for research projects
11am: Try to complete scientific paper, technical reports or popular articles for/ write for grants or prepare financial reports/meet with policy makers or collaborators
1pm: Lunch
2pm: Work on analysis of data collected for research projects/work on writing scientific papers, technical reports or popular articles for/ write for grants or prepare financial reports/meet with policy makers or collaborators
7pm: Leave for home

The payoff
The payoff for entry level researchers/junior research fellows is between Rs 9,000 to 12,000 a month. Post doctoral students/senior research fellows make about Rs 12,000 to 15,000 a month. Assistant researchers make around Rs 20,000 a month. As you gain more experience, the salaries also grow

* Conservationists should have a strong base in biology, mathematics and statistics
* They should be motivated and passionate about wildlife
* They should have good communication and interpersonal skills
* They should be proficient in using computers
* They should be hard working

Getting there
After a bachelors in any biological discipline, gaining a masters in environmental science or wildlife biology and conservation or ecology is desirable. A doctorate within this specialisation helps you do meaningful research work: for example one of conservationist Divya Panicker’s students is doing her PhD in ‘how hunting intensities of mammals differ across three broad protection regimes in North east India’

Institutes and URLs
*n Two institutes that provide master degree courses in wildlife conservation are the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society and Centre for Wildlife Studies. Students carry out PhD’s with organisations such as Indian Institute of Science, NCBS, WII, Nature Conservation Foundation

Pros and cons
* Ample job satisfaction, as one is very passionate about what s/he studies
* You get to visit some of the most beautiful places in the world
* You help conserve natural resources for future generations and contribute to a clean and healthy environment
* Long work hours often with a lower pay compared to other fields such as IT are a deterrent for some

You will certainly not become rich as a wildlife conservationist, but the pay scales are better than they used to be. Salaries depend on the specific area of work you decide to pursue Belinda Wright, executive director, Wildlife Protection Society of India