A local from a village situated near the buffer area of Navegaon Nagzira Tiger Reserve, Hivraj shares how he got inspired to conserve nature and what his learnings have been in his quest to generate awareness among local people for mitigating negative human-wildlife interactions.
- Tell us more about yourself and what got you interested in working for the environment.
Being born and brought up in a village close to the buffer area of Nawegaon Nagzira Tiger Reserve, wildlife and environmental issues always fascinated me. I was so intrigued by the occasional sightings of nilgai, spotted deer and leopard, that, after my school ended, almost every day I went to a nearby forest patch with the hope of a sighting and sound of the narrow water steam flowing nearby touched my mind.
Maybe mother earth understood my desire, and during the initial days of my higher secondary, I started volunteering with a national conservation-based NGO during their guided birding sessions and interacting with fringe communities on resource dependency.
- How does a typical day unfold for you? Tell us a bit about your daily tasks and conservation work.
My work centres around generating awareness among local people for mitigating negative human-wildlife interactions. On a personal level, during my leisure time, I do nature and wildlife photography. As required, we extend support to the forest department to manage crowds or disseminate information during human-wildlife conflict situations.
- What do you love about your current job ?
I really like connecting with local communities, especially with the younger generation to generate awareness on biodiversity conservation. Also, rescuing and giving safe passage to wildlife with the support of the forest department is something I feel excited about.
- Could you share a key learning or experience from the field.
Working with local communities is not a cake walk. One needs a lot of patience and perseverance, especially amidst communities that face vulnerable livelihoods and negative encounters with wildlife.
- Do you feel optimistic about the future of the natural environment of India. Have you experienced a positive change regarding conservation in your area?
In my area, people are gradually reducing the dependency on firewood as it increases the chances of negative encounters with wild animals inside the forest and also creates pressure on the forest resources. Hence yes, there is some positive change.