International Women’s Day 2020: Krithi Karanth
Children living cheek by jowl with wildlife in India
Krithi works with Wild Shaale, a unique Indian environmental and conservation education programme that encourages children to develop an interest in wildlife and teaches them about conservation.
How did you come to lead your conservation team?
I’ve spent the last 22 years in this field. In the first two decades of my career, I was a scientist and conservationist and educator. In 2018, I took over as Chief Conservation Scientist and Director at the Centre for Wildlife Studies. I am now carrying forward the 36-year-old legacy of CWS, but I am also keen to rebuild and refocus the organisation towards problems that are relevant to today and the scientific questions that are of interest today.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
I don’t think there is one big challenge; I think there are several kinds of challenges in different contexts. When you are doing research, you are constantly worried about research permits, if you can find enough funding. When you are doing conservation and implementing programmes, you keep wondering if the programmes are working the way you envisioned them to be, how can they be made better. But I would say, overall the biggest challenge still is fundraising.
What has been your biggest achievement in the field in the past year?
I am very proud of Wild Seve and Wild Shaale programmes. Wild Seve has been around for almost five years now and we have assisted more than 16,000 families file claims from the government for crop/property damage and livestock predation they face due to wildlife. Wild Shaale is a conservation-education programme focused on children and in 2019, we reached more than 400 schools and 25,000 children. We are adapting the curriculum in new languages, adding more species. I think we can reach 10 million children in India with this programme.
What would you say to aspiring women who want a future in conservation?
The most important thing is to believe in yourself. And persist. Because people get disheartened by all the obstacles we have. And particularly in conservation, the obstacles seem to be more, but I think if you really love this field, you just have to persist and you will have an impact and you will break through!
(Image of Krithi, credit Rolex)