An Absolute Guide To Becoming a Naturalist

People, for ages, have been venturing out into nature. It has been their means of relaxing, healing, recreation, or even a hobby.  The world of nature is full of wonders once you know where and how to look for it. But how do you know what to look for? That is where naturalists come into play. With their thorough knowledge and passion for wildlife, naturalists interpret the nature and wildlife to guests and turn them into nature lovers.

In this article, we try to understand how to become a naturalist.

Who is a Naturalist?

A naturalist is a person who studies natural history. They are the experts in the field of wildlife & nature. Their main job is to interpret wildlife to the guests or clients and guide them on various wildlife activities such as nature walks, wildlife safaris, canoeing, boating, bird walks, photography expeditions, etc. Sometimes, naturalists also work with forest department and NGOs to create awareness among the locals. Some of them also are engaged in doing various research in wildlife and nature.

How to become a Naturalist?

First thing’s first, one must have a passion for wildlife. Becoming a naturalist is more than just guiding tourists in the jungle. It is also about staying in the jungles and amidst nature.

The fundamentals of wildlife and wildlife interpretation must be learned to become a naturalist.

These fundamentals include:

  • Understanding what wildlife is and what its elements are.
  • Basic understanding of different wildlife-related regions
  • Animal behavior and how to spot them.
  • Understanding ecology
  • Willingness to work in a rural setup.
  • Guest handling
  • Driving

Salary of a Naturalist:

A beginner naturalist can earn anywhere from 7,000 INR – 15,000 INR per month. And as they progress further, with their knowledge and experience, they may also earn as much as 80,00 INR – 100,000 INR per month as well.

Top institutes for becoming a Naturalist

While there are no such institutes that offer a certified course or a degree to become a naturalist per se. But there are a few organizations that offer training courses.

PRONAT

Professional Naturalist Training Program organized by Pugdundee Safaris is, this very day, the only naturalist course available in India. This course contain two parts. Firstly, the core course of 21 nights and secondly, the extension program of 3 nights. The core course consists of the training in different modules related to wildlife. It includes trees, mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians as well as first aid. Along with this, there are few guest lectures by some of the well-known personalities and experts of this industry such as field director, researchers, etc. The extended program comprises of the guiding techniques. During this course, the trainee must undergo all the processes that he or she would do with the actual guests, starting from greeting them on arrival to seeing them off during their check out.

ANAT

Amateur Naturalist Training Program is another 5-night course held by Pugdundee Safaris. This is a good chance for those who are interested in wildlife and becoming a naturalist, however, the trainees are completely new to this field. This course in not an intensive training program. This gives a fair insight of the naturalist world before actually diving into it. We recommend this course to the people who are unsure about being the naturalist. This course will help you in making up your mind.

Other than these courses, self-learning and observing seniors and following their expertise is the key.

What are the education requirements to become a Naturalist?

Unfortunately, In India, we don’t have a formal education for being a naturalist. However, having an academic background in Wildlife sciences or wildlife biology is an added feature in your cap. 

Nature is a vast subject. Not everything can be learnt from books or can be taught. Thus, the experiential learnings are necessary.

Having said that, spending timeless moments in wild, enthusiasm in learning new things and overcoming the struggles one has to make in his life are important.

Top companies in India that offer job profile as a naturalist.

When it comes to environmental protection, ecotourism is the most significant factor. In India, wildlife tourism is fast expanding. It is attracting a large number of domestic and international visitors. With the growing number of travelers, wildlife tourism is becoming one of the most important sources of revenue. Therefore, the safari companies, nowadays, offer a job profile of naturalist.

Here is the list of top safari companies in India.

  1. Taj Safaris

Taj Safaris have four major safari lodges in India, namely Mahua Kothi at Bandhavgarh National Park, Banjar Tola at Kanha National Park, Pashan Garh at Panna National Park and Baghvan at Pench National Park.

Pugdundee Safaris have 7 lodges situated in 6 national parks of Central India. Ken River Lodge at Panna National Park, Kings Lodge and Tree house Hideaway at Bandhavgarh National Park, Kanha Earth Lodge at Kanha National Park, Denwa Backwater Escape at Satpura National Park, Pench Tree Lodge at Pench National Park and Waghoba Eco Lodge at Tadoba National Park.

  • Oberoi Vanyavilas

Oberoi Vanyavilas in situated near Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan.

  • Jungle lodges and resorts

This chain of the company have various lodges and resorts across Southern India.

  1. Anejhari Butterfly Camp
  2. Bandipur Safari Lodge, Bandipur.
  3. Bannerghatta Nature Camp
  4. Bhagawathi Nature Camp
  5. Bheemeshwari Adventure and Nature Camp
  6. Bhimgad Adventure Camp
  7. Blackbuck Resort
  8. Chigarimala Nature Camp
  9. Devbagh Beach Resort
  10. Dubare Elephant Camp
  11. Galibore Nature Camp
  12. Gopinatham Mystery Trails
  13. Hampi Heritage & Wilderness Resort
  14. Hemmadaga Nature Camp
  15. JLR Kings Sanctuary
  16. K Gudi Wilderness Camp
  17. Kabini River Lodge
  18. Kali Adventure Camp
  19. Kemmannugundi Hill Resort
  20. Old Magazine House
  21. Om Beach Resort
  22. River Tern Lodge
  23. Sadashivgad Sea View Resort
  24. Sakrebyle Elephant Camp
  25. Seethanadi Nature Camp
  26. Sharavathi Adventure Camp

Perks of being a Naturalist

As being said before, naturalist is a fun job. The perks of being a naturalist are –

  1. Exploring jungle on every day basis is possible.
  2. Generally, the lodges provide food and stay. Thus, money is saved.
  3. You get to meet people from all over the world and get to understand different perception.
  4. Staying in the core nature keeps you healthy.
  5. No gyming required.
  6. Away from city means away from junk food.
  7. You have vacation of around 3 months a year.
  8. If interested in research, you can do it along with your job as a naturalist.

Down Sides of being a Naturalist

Every coin has two sides and so does the job of a naturalists. There are few disadvantages too. These include –

  1. You have to stay away from the family and friends.
  2. No movie theaters or other usual urban amenities.
  3. No internet and social life.
  4. It is a 24-hour job.
  5. You might have to put up with all kinds of people.
  6. Comparatively less pay.

The world of naturalist is different from other industries. A lot of sacrifices are to be made to achieve this career. However, if you are willing to make these sacrifices, this is an amusing job. The thrilling lifestyle definitely keeps you boosted.

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