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Navigating Conservation Narratives: The Multifaceted Journey of Bhavna Menon

by In-house Editor

As a freelance writer in the field of conservation, how do you approach storytelling to raise awareness about wildlife and environmental issues?

Bhavna Menon: ”My vision as a storyteller is to raise awareness about the people who are making a difference on the ground with regard to conservation or environmental interventions. If I can help highlight the issues from the lens of the person executing solutions, it helps in giving a holistic perspective.” 

In your role as a consultant at Earth Focus Foundation and PashooPakshee what were the specific areas of work you were involved in? and how do Earth Focus and PashooPakshee contribute to the field of conservation?

BM: ”I have been involved in the space of conservation for 10+ years, wherein I have been engaged with conservation outreach, creation of alternate livelihoods and capacity building with the Forest Department. However, specific to Earth Focus Foundation (EF) I was engaged in capacity of partnership building, fund raising and outreach, to create larger awareness about the work being done by the organisation. 

With PashooPakshee (PP), I was involved with communications and marketing the Crafts for Conservation outlet at Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. EF is working in the Kanha landscape for foundational education (Maths, Hindi and now also working on a biodiversity curriculum) and development in the primary schools and anganwadis in the buffer zone villages, while also engaging with the community members in villages for restoration of  land with regard to agriculture, thereby ensuring food security to the villagers, income via Government schemes and reducing distress migration to the cities, thereby maintaining the social fabric of the villages, and strengthening students participation, attendance and learning  in the schools. 

PP on the other hand, is working with community members across Pench, Kanha and Panna with regard to alternate livelihood, wherein the community members are trained in putting together of contextual, nature inspired responsible souvenirs, which not only gives them a source of livelihood, but helps in reducing Human- Wildlife conflict. The sustainable source of income reduces dependency on forest products (spending time in the forest would bring people directly in conflict with wild animals) and allows people to work from the safety of their homes.”

When writing about conservation issues, how do you navigate the ethical considerations, ensuring accurate representation while maintaining public interest?

BM: “In my opinion, rather than worrying about public interest, it is important to stick to the facts of a story instead of sensationalising it for the sake of readers. Also, if there is genuine work being done on the ground, it will automatically attract public interest while representing the exact nature of work. When you talk about ethics, it is important to do sufficient ground work, and I usually make sure to either visit the project or person in question to the extent possible, rather than relying on here say.”

Balancing roles as a consultant, writer, and director can be challenging. How do you manage these various responsibilities, and do you find synergy between them?

BM: “Yes! It is definitely challenging to juggle different roles. However, my work is centred around what I believe is my forte. Conservation and responsible tourism. Whatever roles I may essay, at the core of it, it contributes to the verticals mentioned, and that’s how the necessary synergy is achieved. Love for my work is of course another factor that contributes significantly.   I have learnt to manage my responsibilities by being more disciplined, and carving out a daily schedule I follow, to do justice to the work in question.” 

Looking ahead, what do you envision as the future of wildlife conservation, and what role do you see yourself playing in shaping that future?

BM: “The future of conservation is, and always will be the community members living around our Protected Areas. I hope to continue working with the people, their skill sets, traditional knowledge and opinion, to pave the way forward for long – term safeguarding of our wilderness spaces.”

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