The only thing I knew (and it is kind of embarrassing to say) I had learned from Animal Planet. I didn’t know WWF had such an important participation in India. So as I waited for my Terms of Reference, I started to read and research about these huge problems and anything else that could tell me more about India.
I thought that by reading about this amazing country I was going to be more than prepared and that the experience would be easier for me as I expected to find something like Mexico where traffic jams, crowded streets, spicy food, a vast biodiversity, and an amazing cultural heritage, are just a few descriptive examples for my country. But you have no idea how different it is! First of all India has the second largest population in the world. So you can imagine the chaos, although a very interesting chaos. The streets are full of people driving and horning like crazy though it is admirable how they manage to avoid crashing almost every minute!! People and cows walk in between cars making an everyday drive to WWF-India offices an adventure of at least 30 minutes. Not only people, cows, cars, and garbage flood the streets. An amazing and interesting culture shows out on every corner of every road. Even though the general landscape in the cities are roads and buildings under construction, garbage, and lots of people, India has the most beautiful sceneries and the most amazing wildlife I’ve ever seen. You walk a few steps and you find yourself surrounded by marble mosques of thousands of years old and all kinds of temples with colorful deities that resemble animals. A few steps further you find yourself in the most beautiful gardens full of refreshing fountains, colorful birds, and tress that give off a smell I will always remember. Then you walk a bit further and you run into a bazaar that makes you feel as if you’ve travelled a hundred years back in time giving you the opportunity to experience all the sounds, colors and smells of the world in just one place. Another impressive aspect of Indian society is that inspite their rough way of life, Indians always keep a big smile on their faces and they are always willing to help (even when they just met you). All these and many more reasons is why I call India the country of contrasts. These contrasts and chaos may be, sometimes, extreme and intense for someone that comes from another country but it is always interesting to know and experience something different because these kind of experinces are the ones that enrich life.
Environmental conservation in India
India’s emergence as one of the fastest growing economies in the world confronts it with a series of challenges. It is a vast country with different geography and a population encompassing varied cultures and languages. It also has one of the vastest and richest natural habitats in the world. However, nowadays India’s vast biodiversity is facing a battle against several factors like pollution, ignorance, lack of funds, indiscriminate hunting and destruction of wildlife habitats, overgrazing, the immoderate use of grasslands for agriculture, overpopulated villages and towns encroaching wildlife natural territory, mindless use of pesticides and chemicals, illegal wildlife trade, among others. So as you can see most of India’s environmental issues come from wildlife-human conflict caused by a growig population living under unsustainble livelihoods. The development of capacity building, technology transfer, and financial support programmes to assist developing countries, like India, with the implementation of sustainable policies aimed to environmental conservation is urgent.
During my work with TRAFFIC-India I had the opportunity to do a content analysis of environmental news and to interview with several environmental journalists to discuss about this widespread problem. I came to the conclusion that environmental journalism can take, along with NGOs like WWF-India, the leadership that is needed to fight environmental degradation. Committed to the principle that accurate information drives responsible decisions by governments and individuals, environmental journalism offers an effective way to involve society in the quest of wildlife conservation and the fight against environmental degradation.