Bhavik Patel – Conservation Scientist in Gujarat, India
I work as a Research Associate for the Sustainable Human and Environment Development Organization (SHEDO) – a very small organization working in Narmada district of Gujarat (India).
In this region, the local population is coming into conflict with the interests of wildlife. I am carrying out research to better understand this conflict.
Prior to this job, I worked at the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) as a Project Officer where I worked on mangrove and coral reef conservation. I also carried out a sea turtle monitoring survey as well undertaking marine Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs).
Why do you have a conservation job?
It’s all started when I attended my first nature camp organized by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) at the Ratanmahal Sloth Bear Wildlife sanctuary (Gujarat). Initially, I was hesitant to go because Sloth Bears are very unpredictable animals, but my father encouraged me to do so. It opened my eyes to mother nature.
The next milestone came when I become a volunteer and life member of WWF. This gave the chance to observe the wonders and the destruction of the natural world more closely – I made the decision to do something to protect it. Consequently, I took Environment Science as my Bachelor and Masters degree.
During my time at BNHS I traveled in the coastal area of Gujarat, and came to know this mangrove ecosystem well and to recognise the pressures facing it. This encouraged me to take up a PhD in “Eco Environment and Socio-Economic Assessment of Mangrove Ecosystem in Mahi and Dhadhar River Estuaries”.
What are you most proud of achieving through your work?
My most proud moment came whilst at BNHS where we successfully defended a proposed port development, which threatened the diverse and fragile coral reef of Poshitra in the Gulf of Kachchh (India) Our EIA forced the local government to review their decision and eventually stopped it from proceeding.
What advice would you give someone who wishing to follow in your footsteps?
Conservationist scientists must ensure that research turns into conservation, otherwise all our efforts are wasted when it comes to protecting nature.
I would also encourage people to do a wide range of research projects – from alpine to pelagic ecosystems, and tiny plankton to enormous Blue Whales – as this will enable you to broaden your knowledge.
What’s your favorite song?
My favorite song is “Maa Reva”. In our part of the world Reva is another name for the River Narmada which flows through my study area. This traditional song was complied by group named Indian Ocean and reflects the understanding of local people towards Narmada and how they are respect her.
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