How naturalists help rekindle a sense of wonder

Wildlife enthusiasts find ways to acquaint people with their work and Mother Nature

Updated - September 03, 2021 11:23 pm IST

Published - September 03, 2021 05:32 pm IST

Kingfisher chick, Roundglass Sustain

Kingfisher chick, Roundglass Sustain

Birds swooping past, creepy crawlies on the window sill, the colour green after the rain — the great outdoors has never held so much appeal as when people were forced to stay indoors during the pandemic. As people began paying more attention to life forms around them, they soon realised it was a whole new world out there that they did not know much about. Some websites bring together members of a far-flung community and help amateurs learn at their own pace. Here are two of them:


Growing up in Madhya Pradesh, Amit Banka’s childhood passion was nature photography. “While working in Mumbai, I began driving out of town over the weekends and soon began to learn more about the natural world. During these excursions, I met a lot of people who were making a difference in the lives of birds, animals and plants.”

His acquaintance with rangers, conservationists, geologists, field guides and others got Amit thinking about their lives and the nature of their work. “Barring a few, all these people have a non-linear work pattern. Projects could span a few weeks or a couple of months. I wondered how they kept their home fires burning, especially as a lot of environmental work is driven by charity.”

Another aspect of work in this field also dawned on Amit. “Knowledge is gathered by individuals but is not effectively shared. The findings of a field guide in India remain largely unknown by his peers anywhere else in the world,” he says. “I realised all this could be easily resolved with a single platform that would bring jobs, projects, assignments and qualified personnel, volunteers and donors together.”

Launched in 2019, WeNaturalists can be considered a marketplace where specialists and participants can share their skills and/or gain them from webinars, tours, events and the like.

“A good amount of learning, awareness creation and education happens in this space,” says Amit. “ As the environment changes, so does the behaviour of plant and animal species, and specialists have to constantly upskill.”

Since its inception, We Naturalists which is based out of Mumbai has seen a lot of exchange happening between Africa, Indonesia, Maldives, Mauritius and India.

According to Amit, one of the reasons this mutual exchange has been a success is due to the seamless communication that is part of their network, which connects members of the community worldwide.

Transparency and accountability have made it easier for donors to monitor progress on projects they have sponsored, he adds.

Referring to WeNaturalists as an ecosystem, Amit says, “We have photographers, poets, environmentalists and others associated with Nature from all over the world who are constantly learning and upscaling.”

“All manner of nature news and content from NatGeo and Animal Planet to and Mongobay, is aggregated in one place at WeNaturalists to benefit visitors,” says Amit.

Karthikeya Singh, founder of Wildlife and Forestry, Julian Matthews of TOFTigers, and author of EcoMasters, Donna Goodman, are just a few of the experts who support the WeNaturalist team.

“We want to celebrate those working at the grassroots level; their stories have the power to inspire, motivate and influence like-minded people and the new generation, probably the current four to 14 year olds who will take things to the next step.”

Learn more at

Nature Nurtures

Harnessing the power of storytelling is how Roundglass Sustain is creating a sense of wonder so people want to protect Nature.

Launched in 2019, Roundglass Sustain, which operates from Delhi NCR, aimed at making a connection within the community by creating awareness about India’s biodiversity. “A host of contributors helped the site become an encyclopedia on the varied facets of wildlife,” says Neha Dara, Business Head of RoundGlass.

With the enforced lockdown, people began to realise there were a lot of life forms they had not noticed before and knew nothing about. “As more people turned to Nature during the uncertainties of the pandemic, we wanted to encourage people to look around them and find a sense of calm through nurturing living things.”

Understanding that this incredible topic would appear daunting to laymen if presented by academics, the team at Roundglass decided to make them more appealing and easier to understand. “We took those studies and repackaged them as stories that would cater to readers at entry levels; the use of videos and infographics helped provide information at a glance.”

And that is how Nature Nurtures came into being. Fact checked by experts, the site provides a variety of content about the kind of wildlife found in one’s home, a crack in the wall or the neighbourhood park. Different types of spiders, the birth of a flower and the musings of a reluctant birder are just some of the topics found on the site.

“By investing in nature, people find themselves interested in something beyond their incarceration, especially as there is so much to discover. At a time when gadgets and buffering speeds try our patience, there is a lesson to be learned from a sunbird’s persistence.”

The team has put together a collection of sounds and sights from Nature to provide pleasant insights in the middle of the day. These short messages, that do not exceed a two-minute duration, could range from the sound of frogs croaking in chorus to the calming sight of water dripping off a leaf.

Among their repertoire of contributors, naturalists scientists and researchers is Rohan Chakravorthy of Green Planet whose illustrations adds a touch of humour to the site. “His cartoons are a great entry point into the world of wildlife,” says Neha.

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