A profession is a vocation founded upon specialised educational training, the purpose of which is to supply disinterested counsel and service to others, for direct and definite compensation, wholly apart from expectation of other business gains. Professions enjoy high status and public prestige, for which we chose to study and earn a degree in a specified discipline. Some professions rise in status and power through various different stages, others may decline due to negligence of recognition or invisible status in the job market. In India, most of the degrees we obtain in various disciplines are from the colonial era British system for the classification of degrees. With the rise of technology and occupational specialization after the 19th century, several occupations, such as Doctor, Teacher, Engineer, Veterinarian and Scientist, began to claim professional status. One such specialization is the wildlife profession. The wildlife profession became more popular after the Second World War.
Wildlife Biology is an academic degree awarded in recognition of the recipient having completed a prescribed course of study with scholarly endeavour. As science advances, the specialisation in subjects naturally replaces the older disciplines like Zoology and Botany. Any graduate in any discipline will seek to find an expanding variety of careers, whereas the one who specializes in a particular subject faces troubles in entering into a profession; one such degree is Wildlife Biology. In India, there are very few institutes that offer this education, but the scholars have very meagre opportunities to enter into government service of the Forest Departments.
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The wildlife of India is a mix of species of diverse origins, belonging to plant and animal kingdoms. The region’s rich and diverse wildlife is preserved in numerous national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the country. There are about 550 protected areas (sanctuaries and national parks) in our country. Since India is home to a number of rare and threatened animal species, scientific wildlife management in the country is essential to preserve these species and habitats. Wildlife biology is the study of wild animals and their environments. Wildlife biologists conduct research and perform investigations into human’s impact on wildlife, thereby the job may include extensive travel, while being sometimes at the desk or in a research lab.
Initially, our forest management system was formed to scientifically manage the forests and to exploit them on a sustained basis, primarily for timber products, among other things. Later in 1966, the modern management system was created for the protection, conservation and regeneration of forest resources. Nonetheless, the administration and management cannot understand the complex ecological linkages among the plants and animals, and certainly not enough to predict how the elimination of one species may affect the fate of others.
Policymakers must understand the need to incorporate science in wildlife conservation in forest management. Though there is a controversy of mismanagement in wildlife due to professional rivalry or confusion of research and management, it is certainly not because of a shortage of funds for management. Rather, it is the dire need of scientifically certified wildlife biologists who can easily bring in the scientific information, and know where and how the funds are used for efficient scientific management. The need, thus, arises for wildlife biologists. Therefore, political dedication and interest in the conservation of our natural resources by employing wildlife professionals in natural resource management needs to be a part of the Forest Department system.
In the present scenario of complex issues concerned with nature conservation, professionals like wildlife biologists must be inducted into service to deal with such issues. This is precisely what a wildlife biologist aims at. The wildlife biologists can be absorbed by the Forest Departments as biologists, endangered species specialists, and conservation education officers. Inducting new services will not interfere with the power and administration of our current forest management system. It must foresee the benefit of the country’s growth and advancement of applied science besides following the old system of administration. Our job is to protect the beauty of nature and assist the bureaucracy in a scientific way. The Union and State Governments should build confidence on this matter in view of the changing roles in present-day science.
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About the author
Dr Vaithianathan Kannan is a Wildlife Biologist who has worked with Sathyamangalam Tiger Conservation Foundation Tamil Nadu Trust, Erode, Tamil Nadu, Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai & AVC College, PG Research Department of Zoology & Wildlife Biology, Mannampandal, Tamil Nadu, and various other NGOs. He is a member of the IUCN/WI/SSC Pelican Specialist Group (Old World) and has a voluntary position within the Old World Pelican Specialist Group. His research interests are diverse largely related to Ecology, Biodiversity, Limnology, Mammalogy, Ornithology and Wetlands