We’ve listed some great volunteer opportunities that you can apply to, where you will not only help bring about change, but also learn on the job about the tiger and its habitat, the ecology and local communities, and consequently, about the conservation not just of a single species but of an ecosystem. These organisations do serious wildlife work, so applications will be vetted thoroughly. Be prepared to work on what they need, not on what you’d like to do for them. So while you might have expected to go into forests and be part of rescue missions during your time as a volunteer, the crucial need of the hour could actually be sitting at a desk in an office, entering wildlife data into a computer. And that contribution is just as relevant. Offer your skill sets, and pitch in.
Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS)
A non-profit charitable trust based out of Bengaluru, CWS has one of the most comprehensive volunteer programmes in the country. It practices science-based conservation, with special emphasis on ecology and conservation of the tiger and other large mammals. It aims to conduct and facilitate long-term wildlife research, study and conservation. You can apply for a volunteer programme at any point through the year; work—and opportunities—peak between mid-April and May. For more details, visit cwsindia.org or write to: email@example.com.
Scat collection. Photo courtesy CWS
Wildlife Trust of India (WTI)
WTI is dedicated to the conservation of nature and the protection of wildlife and its habitat. WTI works with more than one species and is not restricted to tiger conservation. The organisation is involved in projects all over the country and is consistently expanding operations to reach remote areas and include more causes into its fold. The team works with communities and the government to bring about change through awareness programmes and training modules, and is focused on the fight against wildlife crime. For more details, visit wti.org.in or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Wilderness Foundation (LWF)
LWF aims to assist in tiger conservation through education and awareness. The team works with forest departments and tribal communities that live on the peripheries of forests to bring about localised change. In urban areas, LWF’s work includes education through schools, children’s programmes and awareness campaigns. As a volunteer, be prepared to be immersed in the experience, be it working in the office or out in the field, preparing modules and educating children in forested communities about conservation. For more details, visit thelastwilderness.org or write to email@example.com.
Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT)
WCT operates across the country in its aim to help protect India’s biodiversity and threatened wildernesses. The team adopts a multi-pronged approach that involves these pillars: protection, training, livelihood, education, health and research. Work would include, but not be restricted to, working with forest departments, non-government organisations and individuals. WCT takes on volunteers for a minimum of a fortnight and interns for at least two months. For more details, visit wildlifeconservationtrust.org or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the most well-known names in conservation, WWF has been operating in many countries around the world, for over 40 years. In India, the organisation works across states and governments, trying to bring about change through local initiatives. For more details, visit wwfindia.org; register as a volunteer here.
Aaranyak works to foster the conservation of biodiversity in northeast India through research, environmental education, capacity building and advocacy for legal and policy reform. Outreach—and working with local communities—forms an important part of their mission. The organisation’s work is not restricted to tiger conservation; it is a larger conversation on biodiversity in that region. For more details, visit aaranyak.org or write to email@example.com.
Tiger Research and Conservation Trust (TRACT)
TRACT focuses on conservation in the Chandrapur region in the Maharashtra region of central India. This includes 625 sq km of the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. The team works on conflict issues, surveys, field-training workshops for forest departments and ground staff, and monitoring large carnivore populations. Previous experience working with wildlife in a similar field is essential and a minimum commitment of three months is preferred. For more details, visit tractindia.org or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Corbett Foundation (TCF)
Working towards a harmonious existence between humans and wildlife, TCF works in tiger reserves and critical tiger corridors in north, central and northeast India, and the Rann of Kutch. TCF uses a multi-faceted approach and hence, it is actively involved in conservation-oriented research, facilitating advocacy campaigns, spreading environmental awareness, providing primary healthcare and veterinary support to ecosystem-dependent communities and engaging in tribal welfare through sustainable development initiatives and vocational and livelihood training. For more details, visit corbettfoundation.org or write to email@example.com.
Volunteer training session. Photograph courtesy CWS
Green Guard Nature Organisation (GGNO)
GGNO is based in Assam, doing brilliant work with conservation, study and analysis, local communities and engaging in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation. It was featured in Sanctuary Asia as an organisation involved in rescuing wild animals from illegal wildlife trade; providing alternative livelihoods for poachers, snake charmers and other communities involved in exploiting wildlife; identifying and surveying biodiversity-rich areas; and creating awareness about conservation issues. For more details, write to Rituraj Phukan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wildlife Conservation and Development Centre (WLCDC)
The Wildlife Conservation and Development Centre (WLCDC) is an Umred-based NGO that was founded in 2009 by Roheet Karoo, the Honorary Wildlife Warden, with the aim to facilitate the safeguarding of unprotected wildlife corridors and tiger habitats in the Tadoba landscape of Maharashtra. For more details, write to email@example.com.
Updated in December 2016.
is a writer and editor. She is consultant editor at Marine Life of Mumbai, and writes about science, wildlife, travel, fiction and is a published author of children's books. Her past work includes Lonely Planet Magazine India, National Geographic Traveller India, Nature inFocus.
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