“The continued existence of wildlife and wilderness is important to the quality life of humans”, says Jim Fowler.
Agreeing to that, there are few professions that work vigorously to conserve and protect the wildlife which directly or indirectly improves the quality of our lives too!
In this blog, we are diving deep into one of such professions – Wildlife Scientists.
- 1 What is wildlife science?
- 2 How is wildlife science related to wildlife biologists and wildlife conservationists?
- 3 How to pursue a study in wildlife science?
- 4 How to pursue a career in wildlife science?
- 5 Online courses for wildlife science
- 6 Top colleges for wildlife science in India
- 7 Top colleges for wildlife science abroad
- 8 Career and job prospects of wildlife scientist
What is wildlife science?
wildlife science is a wide array of different topics that are directly or indirectly related to wildlife. It includes molecular biology, animal physiology, plant as well as animal ecology, behavioral studies, biometrics, statistics, and system analysis, conservation biology, forest management studies, environmental studies, sociology, economics, politics, forestry, agriculture, policies, and laws.
Having said that, wildlife sciences primarily focuses on wildlife related field studies. However, understanding the basics of all these topics is a must for wildlife scientist.
Wildlife science is nothing but applying the knowledge of the wildlife to improve the health of wildlife with the help of local people.
Although the terms wildlife scientists, wildlife biologists and wildlife conservationist sound similar; there are few differences that make these job profiles different from each other.
Wildlife conservationist works actively in the field of conservation and protection. Conservationists are more inclined towards the active management strategies. Their work includes radio collaring, camera trapping, helping the forest department in relocation and resettlement of villages, etc.
wildlife biologist works more to understand different processes of the forests. This includes the study of vegetation, ecology, population density, finding out the reasons behind the declined population of certain species, etc.
However, wildlife scientist works with wildlife, biology as well as human dynamics. It includes everything from conducting field studies, performing various statistical tests, coming to a conclusion, making out the changes, proposing mitigation measures, actively manage the things and also conducting awareness programs for local communities.
How to pursue a study in wildlife science?
There is hardly any college in the world that offers B.Sc. in wildlife science as it is a subject of specialization. Therefore, during the bachelor’s level, pursing the degree in the subjects like zoology, forestry, veterinary, environmental science, or agriculture in the science stream is must.
After B.Sc. the candidate must pursue M.Sc. in wildlife science. This is an intensive training of the theory as well as field work that shape one into a professional wildlife scientist.
The duration of specialization (Masters) in wildlife science courses is of two years mainly (in India). However, it completely depends on the institutes that you choose to be in. A minimum of two years’ dedication is required to acquire a master’s degree in wildlife sciences anywhere in the world.
In these two years of masters, it is compulsory to complete the dissertation or a thesis by the own. Few of the institutes also offer an internship of few months. Thus, it gives a fair insight of the career in Wildlife Sciences.
After M.Sc. in wildlife sciences, quite a few people also opt for Ph.D. in this field. To pursue Ph.D., one has to clear the entrance exam of the university to get the admission for this course. From minimum of two years to upto 10 and more years, this course can be stretched.
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How to pursue a career in wildlife science?
To pursue a career in wildlife science an internship plays a very important role. It helps you to become a competitive applicant. Let it be paid and unpaid internships, they are essential to gain enough experience of the realities on the ground. Many nonprofit, non-governmental as well as a few government agencies offer such kind of internships.
Another trendy option is volunteering. Sometimes, even for volunteering, participants have to pay. This is basically to make them sincere towards the work. These works can be short term or long term. Volunteering work gives you the training by working with well-experienced scientists. Generally, while pursuing the degree courses, candidates choose to gain experience by working voluntarily with different organizations.
Once made your way to an organization, you can work with them on project basis (contract basis) or on permanent basis.
Online courses for wildlife science
There are various courses related to wildlife science on different online platforms. Class Central has gathered courses from several well-known platforms like EdX, Coursera, etc. in one place. This includes a variety of countless online courses structured by different recognized Universities from different corners of the world. Here are few recommendations on the courses.
- Ecology: Ecosystem dynamics and conservation by American Museum of Natural History and Howard Hughes Medical Institute
- Conservation and protected area management in Africa by École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
- Landscape ecology by ETH Zurich
- Primate conservation by University of Colorado Boulder
- Wildlife and its conservation by the University of Mysore
- Conservation economics by Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur
Top colleges for wildlife science in India
India has always been proud of its flora and fauna. There has always been a sense of responsibility to conserve these natural treasures amongst the people here. Thus, to learn the structured and effective way of conservation of wildlife, few institutes were established since the last decade of the 19th Century (1890).
Here is the list of top four colleges in India that offer Master courses in Wildlife Sciences even today.
Wildlife Institute of India is situated in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. It is an autonomous institution that comes under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India (GoI). It was established in the year 1982.
Kuvempu University is a affiliated University. It was established in the year 1987. It is accredited by National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). In 2019, Kuvempu University is ranked 73rd in National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), considering the institutes from all over India.
Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture Technology and Sciences – SHUATS is situated in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. It was established in the year 1910 and it was formerly known as Allahabad Agricultural Institute.
1896 was the year when the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) was established in the Thrissur region of Kerala state in India. This university has seven different colleges, out of which one is the College of Forestry. This college is present in Vellanikkara and offers courses related to Wildlife Sciences.
Top colleges for wildlife science abroad
Not only India but across the globe, there are some universities and institutes that offer courses such as bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and Ph.D. programs in the field of Wildlife Science. Here are few top colleges from abroad that offer subjects that are essential to pursue career in this sector.
Colorado State University is based in Colorado, United States. This university offers three Wildlife Sciences degree programs. It includes bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Science, Master’s degree in Wildlife Science or Wildlife Biology as well as the Ph.D. program.
University of Vermont is situated in Burlington, Vermont, United States. For undergraduates, this university offers courses such as Wildlife and fishery biology, Forestry, Biology, Plant biology as well as Animal and Veterinary Sciences. For specialization, University of Vermont offers courses such as Animal Science, Biology, Forestry, Plant Biology as well as Wildlife and Fishery biology.
The State University of New York is based in Syracuse, New York, United States. This university offers bachelor’s degree courses such as Agricultural Business Development, Natural Resources Management, Plant Science, Sustainable Energy Management, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Science and Zoology.
Career and job prospects of wildlife scientist
The career in wildlife sciences is suitable for the candidates those are interested in the research part of the wildlife. This career is heady mixture of field as well as the computer work. After collecting the data, wildlife scientists should analyze it using different statistical models and write the research paper to publish it in a peer-reviewed journal.
This field needs dedication, experience and the passion. Unless and until you have the ability to understand the nature and its charisma, working in this field will be a tough job.
Workplaces and work profiles for wildlife scientists
Colleges & Universities
Being a lecturer is one of the job profiles when you become a wildlife scientist. It is generally the backup plan for many of them. It is a secured job wherein you are connected to the wildlife, yet you do not have to stay away from the family. You get a fixed income here and you can be a permanent employee.
To be a lecturer, one must clear the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research – National Eligibility Test (CSIR-NET). This is all-India level exam. The primary criteria for this exam is to complete at least the first year of the master’s degree. This exam occurs twice a year – in June and December.
Environment Monitoring Centers
In Environment Monitoring Centers (EMC), wildlife scientists play a role of Environment Impact Assessment Consultant (EIAC). The work of EIAC includes –
- Collecting extensive data and performing detailed analysis of field data. This field data generally comprise of land use, vegetation cover, forest enumeration, ecology, effluent, emission, socio-economic baseline survey, etc.
- Identifying and evaluating environmental impact
- Performing tests for physical characteristics of environmental impact (air, water, hydrology, geology, soil, effluent, emission, landscape, and aesthetics)
- Performing tests for biological characteristics of environmental impact (flora and fauna)
- Performing tests for social characteristics of environmental impact (social, economic, and cultural)
- Identifying hazard and their impact
- Risk analysis
- Risk and disaster management
- Pollution monitoring, control, and abatement schemes for air, water, and noise
- Disposal of waste and hazardous chemicals
- Preparation of comprehensive EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) and EMP (Environmental Management Plan) study report for obtaining forest and environmental clearance.
- Develop vegetation, wildlife, and habitat protection schemes.
- Obtaining clearance from all statutory authorities, such as central and state pollution control boards, forest department, and others as applicable.
- Usage of high-resolution satellite imageries and interpretation of various signatures therein for Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environment Management Plan (EMP) studies.
- Identification of suitable environment management plans and strategies
- Spill prevention and control
- Enumeration of forest trees.
- Baseline survey of project affected person (PAPs)
- Preparation of social resettlement plan.
Wildlife Research Centers (Forest Department or Non-Government Organizations NGOs)
For various Wildlife Research Centers (Both Government and Non-Government organization) Wildlife Scientist plays a major role. He is responsible for gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data on wildlife and habitats. This data includes behavior, disease, ecology, genetics, nutrition, population dynamics, physiology, land-use changes, and pollution to conserve wildlife species and improve habitat conditions. A wildlife scientist uses scientific principles to research wildlife and habitats to increase our knowledge base.
Few of the top organizations that work with wildlife in India are –
- Wildlife SOS
Wildlife SOS actively works for the protection of Indian wildlife, conserving their habitat, studying biodiversity, conducting research and creating alternative and sustainable livelihoods for former poacher communities. It owns a few rescue centers and has done some remarkable work on rehabilitation of Bears in 90s.
- Wildlife Conservation Trust
Wildlife Conservation Trust, primarily, works on the field with the local forest department for conservation, science and training of forest guards. It also specializes in health care as well as livelihood awareness programs in tribal communities around forests.
- Wildlife Protection Society of India
Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) was founded in 1994. WPSI’s main aim has been to bring a new focus to the daunting task of tackling India’s growing wildlife crisis. It collaborates with state governments to monitor the illegal wildlife trade and provide them with hands-on training and support to combat poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.
- The Nature Conservation Foundation
The Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) was established in 1996. The goal of the Nature Conservation Foundation is to contribute to the knowledge and conservation of India’s unique wildlife heritage. It works in a range of wildlife habitats from coral reefs and tropical rainforests to the high mountains of the Himalaya. Also, it works with few endangered species such as snow leopards and elephants, as well as equally fascinating but lesser-known wildlife such as corals and spiders.
The work of wildlife scientist in the field of zoos and parks include –
- Constructing enrichment items
- Cleaning enclosure
- Feeding animals
- Administrating basic veterinary care
- Recording, observing and photographing behaviour
- Educating and creating awareness amongst the zoo and parks visitor
Salary of a wildlife scientist in India
The average salary of a Wildlife Scientist is, moreover, similar to Wildlife Biologists. In India, it comes around ₹491,318 per annum.
Wildlife science is one of the important aspects in protection and conservation. It not only satisfies the increasing insistence of research in the field of wildlife but also serves a model of systematic approach in research with the help of academics elsewhere in the world.