The Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University is offering an MS programme in the discipline based on the concept of conservation medicine.

Conservation Medicine is an emerging interdisciplinary area of science, which involves the study of issues concerning human and animal wellbeing in a holistic manner. The concept is anchored on the principle that human, animal and ecosystem health are inter-related and dependent on each other.

A two-year MS programme in Wildlife Studies offered by the Centre for Wildlife Studies of the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University at Pookode in Wayanad is the only course in the State based on the concept of conservation medicine.

The centre, established in 2011 on the Lakkidi campus of the university, is one of the few institutes in the country offering postgraduate programmes in Wildlife Studies.

The MS programme is open to all bioscience graduates, including those with a B.Sc. degree in Zoology, Botany, Agriculture and Forestry and B.V.Sc.&AH. The centre offers the programme in technical collaboration with the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), Peechi, which ensures that students receive the best training in animal and wildlife sciences by virtue of the expertise the two organisations have in the field.

The programme offers a chance for students with a passion for wildlife from different bioscience backgrounds to specialise in the subject so that they can seek a career in wildlife education, research or welfare. During the programme, students get exposed to basic subjects in animal science, pure wildlife science subjects, climatology and so on, dealt with by faculty of the university, scientists from the KFRI, experts from the Kerala Forest Department and select guest lecturers, George Chandy, Officer in-charge, Centre for Wildlife Studies and Assistant Professor, Surgery and Radiology, at the university, says.

They receive practical training in wildlife handling and care, field techniques, forensic techniques and molecular techniques, and all these will benefit them when pursuing a career as forest personnel, biologists in zoos or in research, he says.

Field training in the zoos and forests of India under the guidance of experts are an attraction for the students. The course work and training is spread over three semesters and the last semester is earmarked for student research.

The centre has been able to establish linkages with wildlife experts of international organisations such as the Zoological Society of London, Edinburgh University and the University of Calgary, Canada, Dr. Chandy says. Many of these experts have visited the centre during the first year of its establishment and discussed possible areas of working together for the benefit of students and wildlife.

Efforts are on to establish collaborative training and research programmes in association with these organisations to help students gain exposure to global standards in wildlife education, research and care. Overseas training for the students, in association with these institutions, has been envisaged to develop their skills in the care and management of wildlife from a global perspective, he says.

The university recently asserted its commitment to wildlife education and research by the establishment of a separate Board of Studies for wildlife. The Board consists of experts from the university in various fields of animal and wildlife sciences and those from the KFRI and the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore.

Career prospects

The demand for trained personnel who can scientifically understand and work for the welfare and preservation of these resources is increasing globally. Postgraduates of the programme can seek employment in government forest services. Employment is possible in research openings in governmental and non-governmental organisations.

Several private sector organisations and non-governmental organisations offer opportunities for scientifically trained graduates with a passion and drive to work in the fields of wildlife conservation, research and education. National and international funding agencies are supporting research in wildlife on a larger scale than before. Graduates can seek funding by such agencies and pursue a research career on their own or as conservation biologists and scientists associated with organisations. A tremendous scope for higher studies and doctoral research exist in institutions in India and abroad.

The importance given by zoological parks and gardens to employ scientifically trained personnel for care and management of birds and animals is increasing. Such employment opportunities exist all over the world for interested candidates. Apart from the MS programme, the centre conducts certificate courses and training programmes in Wildlife Studies for students and officials. The admission process for this year’s programme is about to start.

Visit www.kvasu.ac.in for details.