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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Current Scenario and Prospects In Wildlife Education In India

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Author : Dr. Somesh Singh, Dr. B.M. Arora

India is rich in wildlife with its exclusive, fascinating and diverse ecosystem. Wildlife includes any animal, aquatic or land vegetation which forms part of any habitat. India is among the twelve mega biodiversity countries of the world. Country’s wildlife is extended over the evergreen forests of North East India to barren deserts of Rajasthan and from alpine forests of Himalaya to the Western Ghats.

The country has 350 species of mammals, 1224 of birds, 408 of reptiles, 197 of amphibians, 2546 of fishes, 57548 of insects and 46286 species of plants which form 8% of the world’s diversity of life forms. The area under forest cover in India is 23.57% of the total land area. The country has 606 protected areas comprising 96 National Parks and 510 Wildlife Sanctuaries with overlapping of 30 Tiger Reserves and 26 Elephant Reserves which cover 4.58% of the total geographic area and 22.12% of total forest cover of the country. In addition there are 150 recognized large, medium and small Zoological Parks and gardens having around 40,000 wild animals in captivity in the country. A number of factors are threatening the existence of wild animals. Among these the important ones are the loss of habitat, poaching, accidents and wildlife health related. For assiduous sustainability of wildlife in the country it is necessary to maintain it scientifically resolving all the factors.

There is a general lack of knowledge in the field of conservation of nature and the values and benefits of wildlife in our country. The Government of India has always been sensitive and taken several initiatives towards preservation of forests and wildlife in the country from time to time. Enviable financial and other investments by the Indian Government, local communities, multilateral aid agencies and Non Government Originations (NGOs) have been made for conservation of wildlife present under in-situ and ex-situ environment. The main objective of the wildlife courses is to produce wildlife professionals who can enthusiastically promote and advance science - based conservation of wildlife and their habitats.
Career options in wildlife sciences

On obtaining a higher qualification in a discipline of wildlife sciences, there are a wide range of options of a career in wildlife teaching, research, health care, manage-ment and conservation areas in universities, State Forest and Animal Husbandry Departments, research institutes, Ministry of Environment and Forests and in NGOs. The major career options can be summarized as follows :

1. Wildlife biologist : The study of animal populations and their habitat is called wildlife biology. The way of living and the natural environment required by wild animals are the areas of deep study by wildlife biologist.

2. Wildlife ecologist : The existence of an organism is affected by various biotic and abiotic 

components around it. Wildlife ecologists do 

studies on, how the living beings are related and affected with their environment.

3. Wildlife Manager : Wildlife manager uses the application of scientific and technical principles to wildlife populations and habitats to maintain such populations essentially for recreational and scientific purposes. The officers of Indian Forest Service and State Forest Service are specially trained on wildlife management.

4. Wildlife academician : To develop knowledge, aware-ness and scientific attitude in the field of wildlife conservation several courses have been started at graduate and post graduate level. The one who is willing to spread the knowledge in wildlife science can start career as Assistant Professor/lecturer in colleges, universities, wildlife institutes etc. Such persons can also do the research work in the relevant discipline and further contribute to the existing knowledge in wildlife sciences.

5. Wildlife Conservationist: They work for the protection, improvement and use of natural resources according to principles that can assure their highest economic or social benefits.

6. Wildlife Forensic specialist: The application of wildlife forensics is widespread in the fields of wildlife biology and ecology. Various morpho-metrical parameters, DNA based techniques, forensic post– mortem examination of wild animals etc. are few techniques used for this purpose. The ultimate aim of most of these techniques is to produce scientific evidences on the cause of death, species, age and sex identification of the animals in wildlife offence cases.

7. Wildlife health and husbandry specialist: 

These are the veterinarians specifically trained in wildlife health. They perform the jobs pertaining to health monitoring, prevention and control of wildlife diseases, treatment, wildlife anaesthesia, reproduction, and nutrition and eco-husbandry facets of wildlife management.

8. Wildlife scientists : Wildlife scientists study and discover new things on the ecology, census, morphology, behaviour and physiology, wildlife diseases, wildlife capture and restraining, animal habitat, breeding, rehabili-tation, forensic, conservation and management aspects. Scientific studies by qualified personnel on threatened species of animals are encouraged in order to assess and improve their status.

9. Wildlife researcher : The youngsters with the back-ground of wildlife, forestry, veterinary, environment, botany, zoology etc. and strong interest in wildlife are often engaged in the ongoing wildlife research projects as Junior Research Fellow, Senior Research Fellow, Research Associate, Technical Assistant etc. Options also exist for the candidates who have qualified for the fellowships of UGC/CSIR/others to launch a project according to their area of interest and pursue research on the same. Researchers are often encouraged to register for doctorate/post doctorate studies.     

10. Wildlife photographer/journalist : Wildlife photo-graphy is an interesting and exciting field. Wildlife photo-grapher records the happenings in wildlife in shape of photographs or movie. The persons with interest, keen observation, patience, an eye for interesting details and love for adventurous work with nature, wild animals, birds and their habitats may adopt this profession. Animals, natural habitats and surrounding are photographed. The task being challenging is very remune-rative. Wildlife journalists write news, articles, stories or even fiction and scientific books associated with wildlife.  

11. Environmental Impact Analyst : These professionals evaluate the environmental consequences of a proposed plan, policy, project or programme and analyze the alternatives by the use of various processes. EIA is an integral part of the planning and decision-making processes.

12. Subject specialist (Ornitholo-gist/Herpetologist/Primatolo-gist etc.) : The wild animals of the country belong to a variety of categories. These animals have peculiarity in the habitat, morphology, behaviour, feeding, breeding etc. For tackling the wide group of species subject specialist are required. These people develop good practical and hypothetical knowledge on specific subjects. The one who studies birds is called ornithologist, a person who studies reptiles and amphibians is called herpetologist and one who study regarding the primates is known as primatologist.

13. Wildlife consultant : These are the wildlife professionals who provide advisory and consultancy services to central and state governments, universities, research institutions and other official and non-official agencies.

Wildlife Science and certain aspects of ecology and environment are closely related to forestry, biology and veterinary sciences. Courses on wildlife at graduate, postgraduate and doctorate level are the part of the course curriculum of these degrees. However, currently specialized degrees are running to train and produce competent wildlife professionals in the country. For doing specialization in wildlife sciences in most of the universities a person needed to have the knowledge of basic science subjects like graduate degree. These aspirants can go for postgraduate degree followed by doctorate in the wildlife disciplines. At present, the degree courses like Post Graduate Diploma, Masters Degree, Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy are running on diverse aspects of wildlife. Various short – term certificate courses or training programs are also run by various agencies.

Wildlife education in Agricultural and Veterinary Science Universities

The courses on wildlife are integral part of undergraduate and post graduate programs in forestry courses curriculum under ICAR system. The role of veterinary science and animal husbandry professionals in wildlife health and management has gain significance in the past few years in our country. Wildlife health and its management are emerging and comparatively newer fields. Special teaching course in wildlife at undergraduate level was started in veterinary college Mathura. After the commencement of Veterinary Council of India, New Delhi the course content in veterinary colleges at graduate level (B.V.Sc & A.H.) has been made uniform throughout the country.

The council has introduced wildlife education in veterinary curricula in the country. Full-fledged wildlife departments in veterinary institutions have also been framed. Now, opportunities exist for veterinary science scholars to choose wildlife veterinary science discipline as a professional career. These veterinary graduates can opt for National Diploma or M.V.Sc & A.H. degree in this discipline. These courses focus on husbandry management (housing, rearing, breeding, nutrition, restraint, rehabilitation), health care (disease diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control, quarantine) of ex-situ and eco-husbandry, health monitoring and disease surveillance facets of in-situ wildlife conservation.

The Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Bareilly started the first National Diploma course on Wildlife Health care and Management in 1995. The Madras Veterinary College, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Science University, Chennai was first to start M.V.Sc. degree in Wildlife Science in the country in the year 1994,  followed by College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya, Jabalpur (M.P.) in the year 2001


The admission procedure for the Masters Degree programmes in most of the universities/institutes is consisting of a National level written test and/or interview of the short listed candidates. The written test assesses the analytical and quantitative abilities, knowledge of basic biology, awareness and interest in current affairs and conservation issues and ability to communicate in english. Candidates desirous of joining Masters degree at Wildlife Institute of India have to appear in the objective type written test of two hours conducted at Dehradun, Bangalore, Kolkata and Mumbai. The test is consisted of multiple-choice questions (60 percent) with sections on general knowledge, general science and optional subjects (life science/forestry/veterinary science/agricultural science) and the remaining 40 percent is made up of essays. Personality and aptitude tests are held at DehraDun. The Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore both advertise for admission to their master degree programmes once in two years. The degree programme is for two years/ four semester duration. Three semesters for course work and the final semester for dissertation work.

The admission procedure in Tamil Nadu Animal and Veterinary Sciences University involves an all India written test whereas, at Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwa-vidyalaya it is based on the merit list prepared on the basis of marks obtained at B.V.Sc & A.H. level. Special quota for outside state candidates are allowed who have qualified the All India Entrance Examination conducted by ICAR for the award of its Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) and admission to masters degree programme at all the SAUs in the field of agriculture and allied sciences. The course is organized in minimum of four semesters (two years). Two semesters (one year) of this period are for course work and remaining two for research work and thesis preparat


The WII offers financial assistance in the form of fellowship to the selected students. Presently it is the stipend of rupees 1800/- given to the students of M.Sc.
The candidates ranking high in the ICAR entrance exam for Post Graduate programmes can get fellowship amounting to Rs. 12000 per month for two years. Apart from this, contingency grant of rupees 6000 is also given every year. The students who are not getting any fellowship may be absorbed in the ongoing research projects during the tenure of their research work. For pursuing Ph.D. degree, the U.G.C.-C.S.I.R. fellowship is available to the deserving candidates. However, they can also be absorbed in the ongoing research projects as J.R.F./S.R.F./Project Associate etc. and can register for the Ph.D. programmes.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests awards Shri Kailash Sankhla National Wildlife Fellowship Award alternatively each year to inspire and promote the Indian citizens engaged in wildlife management/research for taking up research/experimental projects on mammalian wildlife. Fellowship is normally awarded for two years at the rate of Rs. 4000/- per month. In addition, Rs. 18,000 per annum is paid for meeting the contingency expenditure. The Central Zoo Authority (Statutory Body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India), New Delhi offers Small Grant Fellowships - for initiating Research Activities at Zoo Level. The Central Zoo Authority provides a grant of up to Rs. 2.00 lakhs per year (upto maximum 3 years) for local need based zoo research projects in the field of ex-situ conservation and scientific management of animals in Indian zoos. The zoos may appoint fresh postgraduates in the field of wildlife science, veterinary science, zoology and botany to work on project mode on the identified areas of research.

Job Prospects in wildlife sciences

Wildlife professionals can take up work either in outdoors, laboratories or offices depending on their field of specialization and choice. This field of action also promises a lot of jobs to youngsters not only inside the country but also abroad. Employment opportunities exist with various government and non-government organizations working for wildlife conservation. One can also start its own organization and projects.

Government organizations

The opportunities often comes for engagement as Scientist/Scientific Officer/Research Officer in Government Departments/research institutes viz. Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONS), Ranga Reddy District (A.P.), Zoological Survey of India, New Delhi, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), New Delhi.

i. Central Government

a.  Curator in National Zoological Parks.

b.  Wildlife biologist in National Zoological Parks.

c.  Assistant Professor/ Lecturer in Wildlife Science/ Wildlife Health/ Wildlife Management in the Central Agricultural, Fisheries, Science and Traditional Universities.
d.  Consultant in CPCSEA, MoEF, Chennai.
e.  Scientist/ Scientific officer/ Research Officer/ Assistant Professor in the wildlife research institutes and Government Departments viz. Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, Central Zoo Authority (CZA), New Delhi, Indian Institute of Science, Mudumalai, Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONS), Ranga Reddy District (A.P.), Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly, Zoological Survey of India, New Delhi, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), New Delhi, SACON, Coiambtore, Animal Welfare Division (MoEF), New Delhi.  
f.   Zoologist in Zoological Survey of India, New Delhi, Natural History Museums.
g.  Researcher (Junior Research Fellow/Senior Research Fellow/Research Associate/ Technical Assistant) in time bound projects at WII, IVRI, LaCONS, Salim Ali Center for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), Coiambtore, other institutes, colleges and universities.

ii.     State Government

a.     Curator in Zoos

b.   Wildlife biologist in Zoological Parks/National Park/ Sanctuary/ State Forest Department etc.
b.   Scientists/ Research officer in the wildlife Protected Areas.
c.  Assistant Professor/ Lecturer in Wildlife Science/ Wildlife Health/ Wildlife Management in the Forestry, Veterinary, Agricultural and Traditional Universities.
d.  Wildlife veterinarians are engaged in National Parks/ Wildlife Sanctuary/ Deer Park/ Zoological Park/ Rescue centers as Wildlife Health Officer/ Wildlife Veterinary Officer/ Forest Veterinary Officer.
e.  Researcher (Junior Research Fellow/ Senior Research Fellow/ Research Associate/ Technical Assistant) in time bound projects at State Forest Research Institutes, other institutes, colleges and universities.

2.     Local Bodies/Municipalities:

a.     Curator in Zoos.

b.  Zoo Vets in zoos and wildlife centers, rescue centers

c.  Wildlife Biologist in Zoos.

3.  Private Sector/NGOs/ Societies:

There are number of Non Government Organizations working in the field of wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and conservation at National and International level. It may be a good option if a group of peoples with similar ideology can start an NGO. Such NGOs can apply for grant from the various funding agencies including Government. The fund is given for the specific purposes. However, one can also get jobs in the NGOs viz.

a. Scientist in Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai

b.   Program Officer/ Project Coordinator

c.   Researcher (JRF/SRF/RA/TA) in the time bound projects

d.   Wildlife journalist 

e.   Wildlife photographer

Some of the reputed NGOs working in the country are

(A) Societies for welfare & public awareness

1.   Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), New Delhi

2.   Peoples for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA-India), New Delhi

3.   World Wildlife Fund  (WWF-India), New Delhi

4.   Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), New Delhi

5.   Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), New Delhi

6.   Wildlife SOS, New Delhi

7.   Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS – India), New Delhi

(B) Scientific societies

1.   Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Mumbai

2.  Association of Indian Zoo & Wildlife Veterinarians, Bareilly

4.   Self Employment 

a.   Consultancy in Wildlife biology/ wildlife health/ Zoo husbandry

b.   Wild animal hospital  c.  Disease Diagnostic labs (Pathology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Parasitology etc.) 

d.   Wildlife journalist

e.   Wildlife photographer

f.   Book writing/ Editing a journal – It is a very good option for wildlife professional to write and edit a book or journal. Specially the senior persons can share their experiences through books and also edit some journal for scientific presentation of research findings.

5. Opportunities abroad

Many opportunities exist in the foreign countries for the deserving candidates. The wildlife specialists from India are finding jobs abroad as wildlife consultants for esteemed organizations. The most important of these being the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Wildlife Conservation Society, Peoples for Ethical Treatment of Animals etc. Many organizations are hiring Indian personnel for working in countries like U.S.A., Kampuchea, Vietnam, South Africa and other such countries.

They can go for the teaching positions in the universities for short or life long period. The African countries (eg. Ethiopia) regularly sends their representatives to India and conduct interviews for teaching positions for their universities. Anyone who is willing to go abroad for higher studies like Ph.D. and Post Doctorate Fellowship can get attractive fellowship for this purpose. For doing Masters and Ph.D. degree certain exams like GRE (Graduate Record Examination)/ TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)/ IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score are seen. These are the examinations recognized by most of the countries for studying over there. However, some universities may give direct admission.
 Many of the universities prefer the individuals having research publications in the peer reviewed journals. If an individual is having research background related to the thrust area of research in a university, the chances of engagement of such individuals are more. The professionally competent individuals can be directly employed.  

The scientific management and conservation of wildlife is a joint effort. Government, NGOs and many International organizations are involved in conserving our wildlife. It can be achieved by furnishing concern to its all the aspects like, biology, ecology, health, forensics and eco-husbandry facets of wildlife management. The wildlife biologists, veterinarians, foresters, environmentalists, ecologists, researchers, naturalists, educationists, conservationists, activists and wildlife lovers from the India and abroad should come forward to accomplish this mission.

The wide array of the science has made good career options and opportunities to the personnel interested to give their contribution towards wildlife conservation activities. The young enthusiasts with sheer dedication towards the wildlife conservation, passion for adventure and ability should opt for these courses.

Source : The Career Guide

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