Wildlife conservation in India: in conversation with Shaleen Attre

Shaleen transitioned from rescuing animals to policy roles with WWF India before pursuing her PhD focused on human-snake coexistence. She discusses her perspective on wildlife conservation with Uche. Listen to their interesting conversation.
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getting to speak and learn from Shaleen was like a journey into the mind of one of the most promising conservationists I have met. As I discussed with Shaleen, She offered insights into her educational journey and professional trajectory, shedding light on the symbiotic relationship between her background in English literature and her passion for wildlife conservation. Through a narrative that traverses from animal rescue to influential policy roles within WWF India, and culminating in her pursuit of a Ph.D. focusing on human-snake coexistence, Shaleen underscored the intricate interplay between diverse disciplines in shaping her perspective on conservation efforts.

TAKEAWAY: FOCUS ON YOUR PASSION AND USE YOUR TRAINING TO LEVERAGE YOUR WORK

A focal point of Shaleen's discourse was the commendable community-driven conservation initiatives in Goa, particularly concerning the mitigation of conflicts and retaliatory killings related to snakes. By harnessing local knowledge and promoting awareness alongside accessible healthcare, Goa has notably achieved lower snakebite mortality rates compared to other regions in India.

TAKEAWAY: UNDERSTAND THE COMMUNITY AND COMMUNICATE AND EDUCATE THEM TO CO-EXIST WITH ANIMALS.

Nevertheless, Shaleen drew attention to the pervasive threats confronting India's wildlife, primarily stemming from the loss of habitat connectivity due to rapid infrastructure development. In advocating for an integrated conservation approach, she emphasized the imperative of balancing both animal and human needs, especially for indigenous communities whose livelihoods depend on forest resources.

TAKEAWAY: THE HUMANS AND THE ANIMALS HAVE A RIGHT TO THE FOREST, SO CAUSE NO HARM TO EITHER 

Central to Shaleen's advocacy is the concept of holistic conservation, which entails not only the protection of keystone species but also the restoration of degraded habitats. She underscored the significance of landscape health and permeability in sustaining genetic diversity, particularly as animal populations contend with shrinking habitats.

TAKEAWAY: WHILE YOU STRIVE TO CONSERVE THE ANIMALS, REMEMBER TO CONSERVE THEIR HABITAT WHICH IS KEY TO THEIR SURVIVAL.

Moreover, Shaleen underscored the pivotal role of communities in conservation efforts, highlighting the escalating interactions between humans and wildlife. She emphasized the importance of understanding local perspectives to mitigate conflicts effectively and promote solutions that benefit all stakeholders. However, she lamented the limited scale of nature education initiatives in India, emphasizing the urgent need for their prioritization.

TAKEAWAY: GO BACK TO THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE AND LEARN HOW THEY WERE ABLE TO COEXIST WITH THE ANIMALS AND TEACH THE YOUNGER ONES THIS GENERATIONAL KNOWLEDGE.

In light of these challenges, Shaleen offered a nuanced perspective on development, advocating for a balanced approach that safeguards natural resources for future generations. Drawing from her field experience, she asserted that integrated conservation strategies, which take into account socioeconomic considerations, are most likely to yield sustainable outcomes.

TAKEAWAY: THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES WILL NOT BE ACHIEVED BY WORKING IN SILOS. WORKING TOGETHER STRATEGICALLY AND POOLING RESOURCES TARGETED AT STRATEGIC EFFORTS WILL ACHIEVE BETTER OUTCOMES IN THE LONG RUN.

In conclusion, Shaleen's journey epitomizes the interdisciplinary nature of conservation work, where diverse expertise converges to address complex ecological challenges. Her advocacy for holistic approaches, community engagement, and balanced development underscores the imperative of collective action in preserving India's rich biodiversity for generations to come. She advocated for more anthropologists' and sociologists' involvement in conservation to bring their expertise to bear in understanding the history, sociology, and other aspects of human/animal interactions and conflicts.

TAKEAWAY: CONSERVATION SHOULD BE VIEWED WITH A MULTIDIMENTIONAL LENS, WITH THE VIEW TO UNDERSTAND THE MAN, THE ANIMAL, AND THEIR ENVIRONMENT, MAKING SURE THAT ALL ARE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION AS NOT TO CAUSE HARM TO ANY PARTY WHILE TRYING TO CONSERVE THE OTHER.

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Go to the profile of Thirza Loffeld
4 months ago

Thank you for sharing your interesting conversation @Uchenna H Anyaorah and @Shaleen Attre with our WildHub community: great to see you two connect and share insights. 

I agree with Shaleen that we need to collaborate more, break away from our working in silos. 

This interview is perhaps also of interest to you @Doreen Beatrice Kakai , @Rezoana Arefine , @Mory SANOGO , @Hiral Naik , @Loretta Andrade , @siphesihle Tengetile Magagula and @Ziva Justinek 

Go to the profile of Christine Tansey
4 months ago

Thank you for sharing your experiences @Shaleen Attre and congrats on your first interview @Uchenna H Anyaorah!

I found it useful to see your takeaway messages and think about the parallels with WildTeam Bangladesh's work with community-driven initiatives to mitigating human-tiger conflict in the Sundarbans. 

This is amazing to read. Thank you for sharing, sir.

I understand that there is a need to learn from local communities how they coexist with the animals and at the same time understand and educate them to co-exist. So many strategies to put in place.

Thank you for your efforts

Go to the profile of Grace Alawa
4 months ago

Collaboration is key, thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with us. Welldone @ Uche and Shaleen.

Go to the profile of Suhail Bashir
4 months ago

Amazing and informative!!