Vivek Menon, on working as a wildlife conservationist and preserving natural heritage

Question 1: How would you like to introduce yourself to the readers?

My name is Vivek Menon and I am a biologist and wildlife conservationist who has worked for over three decades to help conserve the natural heritage of India. I have founded five wildlife and conservation NGOs and am currently the CEO of one of them, the Wildlife Trust of India. I am also an Advisor to the President of the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Chair of the Asian Elephant Specialist Group of the IUCN.

Question 2: What interested and rather prompted you to pursue a career in Wildlife at the early age you did?

I have always been interested in nature from a going age. Perhaps it was the early treks into the Himalayas that I indulged in during high school or the keeping a large number of wild pets, some of which I rescued and others ( I am ashamed to admit) I bought from the local pet store that made me Interested in animals and nature It was during my graduation that I founded my first NGO called Srishti to protect Delhi’s environment and that put me on track for a career in conservation

Question 3: When were the seeds of founding WTI sown? OR What was the inspiration for coming up with WTI?

By the time WTI came about I had already started and ran Srishti and the Delhi Bird Club and then TRAFFIC India (with Mr Ashok Kumar who was the founding Director) for many years. I had then taken a Couple of years of hiatus from the world of charities and worked in Kenya and Myanmar and other places on my own. Later I came back to start up the WTI with three other co-founders Ashok Kumar, Thomas Mathew and Tara Gandhi.

Question 4: How has your experience been in the field of Wildlife?

Conservation is always like a game of chess. You play knowing you may never win. You play although you may lose. You play because you cannot afford to sit back and watch the natural world getting decimated in front of your eyes. Today we have a lot of technical knowledge and goodwill and if only political will was added to the mix we would make huge progress!

Question 5: You have been extremely vocal when it comes to rights of animal[1] and have also written various Op.Eds. on wildlife and conservation.[2] What are the key challenges you see in Wildlife conservation?

The key challenge as I said is political will. We need to find the motivation and wisdom to want natural spaces and wild animals. If there is political will then the other problems such as poaching or habitat loss can be tackled.

Question 6: In continuation of the above question, How do you think law students can contribute?

Students are the new energy force of the universe. They can come up with fresh honking, new technology and or just provide newer eyes and ears and hands and feet in the fight to save wildlife. They are the engines of this conservation battle

Question 7: What are the career opportunities for law students and freshers at WTI?

We take in interns of all sorts into WTI. There is a special post graduation course we run on Conservation Action with Bharti Vidyapeeth in Pune. We of course are one of the larger employers of conservationists in India although still the number is very small

Question 8: On a parting note, a few pearls of wisdom, you would want to share with the readers.

Keep at it! Temperament and the will to continue the fight is more important than great ideas which last a short time. Be always open to learn and do new things. However always always continue to fight for the natural world as it is dependent on human action for its preservation.

Interviewed by Ms. Saranya Mishra, student, ILS Law College, Pune, in capacity of Student Ambassador for SCC and EBC since 2015.

[1]https://www.livemint.com/Leisure/tQvrr7fXu8GkpzGw3jbawI/Vivek-Menon-dreams-of-giving-Indias-wildlife-the-right-to-r.html

[2]https://www.thehindu.com/profile/author/Vivek-Menon-2924/

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