Q: I am from Odisha and interested in wildlife conservation. From where can I start my mission? Please give me some information about NGOs working towards protecting nature in Odisha. Thanks.

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Answer from Aditya Panda, a wildlife conservationist based in Odisha.

Dear Pradyumna,

It’s great to see your interest in wildlife conservation. I would advise you to first start by reading up as much as possible regarding the conservation issues of Orissa, the laws and policies on wildlife in general in India, with particular emphasis on those which relate to species and habitats found in Orissa, conservation efforts, including successes and failures, etc. so that you first gain a thorough overview of the situation. The internet is a huge repository of data on these subjects and Conservation India is a good, easy-to-understand source of information to begin with. Other sites/publications that you will benefit from include the TigerLink magazine, Sanctuary Asia, etc. Often, citizens do not give due importance to websites/publications of government departments such as those of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, Ministry of Environment & Forests, Wildlife Wing of the Govt. of Orissa, Chilika Development Authority and others which you must go through. All these websites are full of easily available information which shall be of great help to you in gaining an understanding.

You must also get in touch with non-government organisations and individuals working in the state and explore opportunities as to how best you can contribute with your skills and time.

Some of the NGOs of the state working for wildlife conservation include Nature Environment & Wildlife Society-Angul (NEWS-Angul), Wild Orissa, Wildlife Society of Orissa, among others. You can also get in touch with individuals such as wildlife biologist and conservationist Pratyush P. Mohapatra or even myself and I’m sure we shall all be glad to interact with you, guide you and work together wherever possible.

The contact details, websites, etc. of all the government departments, individuals and organisations mentioned here are freely available on the internet, and I shall let you hunt them out, as the space here is limited.

But, as I said, before you take these steps, the most important task for you is to first educate yourself as thoroughly as you can regarding issues affecting wildlife, their causes and potential solutions. Any action that you take, any time and energy that you expend shall not be productive unless it is driven by knowledge.

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