A Conservation Career Journey with Rab Nawaz – WWF Pakistan’s Director
Rab Nawaz is WWF Pakistan’s Director of the Sindh Region. Here he shares his passion for conservation, the Western Tragopan and Pakistan’s wildlife with Conservation Careers Blogger, Zehra Zawawi.
What is your role at WWF Pakistan and what are your main duties?
My title at WWF Pakistan is Director Sindh but I also look after the coastal areas of Balochistan. Currently, I am heading three major programmes: The Climate Change Programme, Marine Programme and the Indus Eco-region Programme.
My role is that of a mentor. I basically make sure things go smoothly, offer advice and give strategic input on how to make programmes successful and sustainable as well.
Apart from that, I also look after the some of the species programme e.g. Arabian Humpback Whale, fundraising and corporate relation activities in Karachi.
How will you describe your experience working with WWF-Pakistan?
WWF’s Network is kind of a phenomenon. We see ourselves as a family and call ourselves ‘Panda’s’. I think this has been ingrained in the organization for a long time. We have various offices across different countries but we all share a same vision, which has kept our Network glued together.
We have a good blend of personnel and a very well structured international Network working with diverse conservation issues. It’s quite a tight clan and you form relationships which go beyond professional. Wherever you find a fellow Panda you will always find him or her willing to help you, look after you or take you out.
Our work involves a lot of tele-conferencing between different time zones and it’s really amazing to see the passion that comes with the Network. Sometimes when we talk with our colleagues in the early morning hours of the US it’s almost midnight here in Pakistan. So you can guess the determination we put in our work.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part has to be working in Pakistan, a country which has a lot of potential. You can tap that potential and really bring a long time change. There are many places especially in the Northern Areas where we brought a lot of change in conservation activities. You really get a sense of pride that without spending millions you can not only change the future of the wildlife but the people living there as well.
A lot of our work is deep rooted in societies, communities and schools. It’s a great feeling to see that in order to bring potential change sometimes all it takes is the use of a small amount of resource and the determination of the people.
At a global scale, I think the best thing is being a part of this huge network. When it comes to conservation we put aside differences, social and ethnic backgrounds, and the whole network comes together to make things turn around.
How would you describe conservation?
Conservation for me is having a vision and its success is determined by seeing how much capacity you have build among people and whether you have enough leverage in the government. It not only succeeds where you have worked with it but spills over to other communities, other governments or other societies.
It’s having a vision and not only realizing the vision but passing it unto to a hunter, a fisherman, a politician, government, policy maker and letting them take the vision in their own hands. You just step back and let them do the job or mould it a bit to their own needs as long as the conservation message is there. I think that’s what conservation is to me.
A lot of it is actually spending time with people in the field talking to them, convincing them and sharing tea with them. When it comes to our work it’s not about money, its being with them throughout in that living cycle, being accepted in the community and getting acknowledged by the governments. These are all kind of signs and successes we look for in WWF Pakistan.
What do you think is the biggest challenge working for conservation in a Developing Country?
Education! It is crucial to get the message across and allow people to adopt it. I believe, if there is 100% literacy rate then our jobs as conservationists would become so much easier.
The population of Pakistan is increasing so rapidly and putting a huge pressure on our natural resources, lands, water and the air we breathe. These things are large scale issues we are facing in conservation.
Political interest in environment is also not very high in the agenda since most of the conservation issues are mainly regional problems. For example, water is a regional issue or even wildlife trafficking which is often overlooked.
What advice would you give to anyone following your footsteps?
If you want to become rich don’t get into conservation. Don’t romanticize the job! Conservation is something that gives you a lot of satisfaction but it is also a lot of hard work. It is something money can’t buy but the satisfaction you get having done something for the environment is what you have to bank. I think if you get into the right conservation organization the memories you make will stay with you throughout your life.
About the author
Zehra Zawawi studied B. Sc Geography and Environment as an Independent student with University of London – International Programme. She currently graduated as a Lead Fellow with Lead International ‘s Leading for Sustainability Programme and also volunteered internationally for WWF South Pacific’s communications department. Since her return from the Fiji Islands, Zehra has been presenting in various organizations to promote awareness of conservation and sustainability. She also facilitated conservation education programmes for WWF Pakistan providing fundraising, marketing, advocacy and communications support. Zehra has a passion to work with community life and sustainable livelihoods. She is interested in leadership for sustainable development and currently coaching younger people to hone their leadership skills. In future she hopes to work in field based conservation but also wants to make good use of her writing skills by sharing conservation stories from across the globe.