As a part of The Interview Portal “Featured Editor” series we are happy to connect with professionals who can enlighten young minds, not as mentors, but as individuals who are very passionate about doing what they truly believe in, either through a full-time profession or inspite of having a full-time profession.
Today we feature Kishore Sabareeshan as Featured Editor who could never dust away his passion for the wild and continues to explore the wilderness with his camera whenever he can sneak away from civilization.
Kishore talks about the burgeoning career options for students interested in the wildlife based on their interests, skills and long term aspirations.
A Walk On The Wild Side
Perhaps the most alluring thing about nature is that humans have been around for so many thousands of years and are yet to know everything about it. Every now and then, newer species are discovered thanks to curious souls who are in search of the truth. Who are these souls? How can we nurture this curiosity in ourselves or our future generation? Are there viable career paths under the wildlife umbrella? Let’s find out.
Bursting The Human Bubble
For most of us city breds, it is only natural to get lost in the limited dimensions of our plastic world. Sure, technological advancements and progress have created a variety of opportunities and conveniences that we can’t do without today, but that doesn’t mean we forget where we came from. No, I’m not talking about our religion or culture, I’m referring to our origin as a specie. At some point, our early ancestors decided to walk on twos and there was no turning back. While we have moved ahead and transformed the world, there is only one thing that will keep us grounded; our roots.
Having been a hobbyist wildlife photographer and enthusiast for 5 years now, I may not have been able to make wildlife my profession, but I’ve certainly learnt how future generations can do so. Before we get to that, let’s discuss the purpose of the field.
Why We Must Care For Our Wildlife
If you’ve watched Lion King, we’re sure you remember Mufasa talking to little Simba about the circle of life. While the movie’s fictional, the knowledge shared is legit. Everything in nature exists in a perfect balance. For instance, in a jungle, the apex predator keeps the prey population in check. Thanks to this, the forest is not overgrazed. If you remove any one of these elements from the equation, the others would not survive. This beautiful equation is certainly worth preserving.
What’s more? Caring for wildlife indirectly means caring for our own future. Forest, rivers, mountains are our lifelines, so contribution to the conversation of the same will help us secure a better world for our future generations.
The Roads Less Taken – Possible Careers In Wildlife
The below list is purely based on my interaction with fellow wildlife enthusiasts and seniors in the field who have been pioneers in conceptualizing a career in this field.
Become A Naturalist
If you constantly find yourself to be curious about how things in nature work. you can consider honing this interest by exploring your education options in streams of biology. For instance, if you’ve always been fascinated about big cats like tigers and truly want to know about their evolution, then consider studying zoology. Post that, you can do a diploma or similar course in conservation management. Such a path will give you access to different opportunities.
One of the emerging avenues in this field is becoming a professional naturalist for a top-brand jungle resort.
India is home to many jungles, and many resorts have branched out to each of these slices of nature with the intention to provide general public with an authentic jungle experience. Over the years, big resort brands have scouted knowledgeable individuals who not only possess the required skill to read the jungle like a book but can also instill on-field knowledge to tourists while on safari.
Apart from the earlier discussed educational parts, how does one take to this profession? Well, there are programmes such as Professional Naturalist Training (PRONAT) organized by Wildlife And Forestry Services, India which are designed to empower nature enthusiasts to become professional naturalists.
Become An Educational Wildlife Safari Tour Operator
While there are 1000s of purely commercial tour operators who mainly wish to give tourists the ‘tiger’ experience, more and more young tour operators are now striving to provide a much more holistic jungle experience. Not only are these packages designed to help you sight nature’s wonders, they are also educational in that you get to know about the various trees, plants, animals and birds that exist in each location as well as the indigenous tribes that live in the fringes.
If you’re a nature lover who also possesses the knack for educating people as well as the ambition to run a business, this can be quite an exciting field. Sure, it’ll need you to learn how the wildlife tourism industry works and how you can add value by contributing to it.
Shutterbug? Do Live Workshops
Most urban nature enthusiasts are wildlife photographers. Why? Because we must have somewhere struck a liking for it in our one of our childhood trips. The thrill of wildlife photography is second to none, because A) no two days in the jungle are the same, and B) you seldom get a second chance at a perfect frame.
Getting better at wildlife photography requires a lot of practical experience. Only when you learn what you’re doing wrong, you get to understand what you need to do right. For those who have a technical bent of mind, becoming a professional photography expert is a viable option in the wildlife field.
While this option also is mostly possible only from a tour operator perspective, one can approach tour packages as wildlife workshops that will teach young shutterbugs the craft of photography. The audience for workshops are vastly different from your typical safari tourists. Here, you’re dealing with people who are approaching wildlife from an artistic point of view. They are here to learn the know-how behind getting a perfectly-exposed photograph of wild denizens. Over the years, wildlife experts have managed to club online workshops, city workshops as well as on-field safari workshops to earn a living.
This career path requires you to spend a lot of field time and gain experience over two things; the behavior of your subjects (animals and birds) + your technical grasp over the camera. It also requires you to know how things work under natural light; this is no studio!
If your more of a video guy/girl, you can always build up a good portfolio; you never know when a freelance documentary assignment comes knocking at your door.
For Those Who Already Have A Stable Career
If wildlife is not your career, no problem. You can still contribute to the field. Let’s take me for instance. As a hobbyist wildlifer, I share my pictures with my family, friends, as well as on social media platforms. Personally, my intention is to merely act as a window to the wild for others whose interest in nature may have not peaked yet. Out of a 100 people who see my pictures, even if one person feels like going to the jungle after seeing it, I consider myself to be a contributor towards wildlife, because I’m slowly making one more person care for nature, and he or she will soon inspire another one.