Staff Profile Of The Month: Shivam Rai

December 26, 2023 | By Mrunmayee Pawar
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In the heart of the district of Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, within the serene embrace of the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre (ECCC), Shivam Rai stands as a beacon of hope for the rescued elephants at Wildlife SOS. As the Elephant Project Head Coordinator at Wildlife SOS, Shivam orchestrates a symphony of care, compassion, and conservation at ECCC. 

Shivam’s journey from being a civil engineer to becoming a warrior in wildlife conservation reflects a purpose-driven transition. Guided by his love and respect for Mother Nature, he made a conscious decision to shift from a technical profession to join the cause that aligned with his passion for the wild. He has been a part of the Wildlife SOS family since 2016, and has taken on crucial aspects of work with sincerity and dedication. As a significant member of the organisation, we commend Shivam for his valuable efforts as he shares his experience with us. 

How did you discover Wildlife SOS?

My introduction to Wildlife SOS happened through my passion for bird watching and nature trails at the Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary in Agra. It was during one of these weekends that I stumbled upon the facility that housed rescued ‘dancing’ sloth bears. Additionally, my M.Tech thesis focused on ‘Wildlife Vehicle Collision Reduction Study’ in Kalesar National Park’s Ch. Surinder Singh Elephant Rehabilitation Centre. The great efforts of Wildlife SOS in eradicating the cruel practice of ‘dancing’ bears in India captivated me, and since then, I’ve been following in the footsteps of Wildlife SOS.

Shivam Rai conducts interactive training sessions with forest officers to share knowledge on wildlife conservation and care. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

How has the journey with Wildlife SOS been since then?

It’s been a fantastic journey filled with continuous learning. From birding and snake rescues, to understanding the behaviours and challenges faced by bears and elephants, every day brings new insights. Living in nature is like being part of a family, where every aspect of biodiversity, from insects to flowers and plants, becomes an integral part of our daily lives.

What is your role at Wildlife SOS?

My role at Wildlife SOS is diverse and engaging. I’m involved in visit and volunteer programmes, sensitizing and educating people, planning activities and events, managing stay arrangements, overlooking construction work at the centre, coordinating rescue calls, handling office tasks, and overseeing the merchandise and gift shop. Additionally, I contribute to the communication team by updating information and collating data.

International volunteers being guided by Shivam during an immersive tour of our Agra Bear Rescue Facility. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

My day starts by huddling with the education team and supervisors to plan the day meticulously. The day involves a mix of activities, from giving educational tours to visitors, coordinating with team members to engaging with forest department officials. It’s a fast-paced environment that keeps me on my toes, but my love for what I do makes every moment worthwhile.

In a quiet ceremony, Shivam honoured the courage and strength of the departed elephant, Moti. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

What inspired you to choose a career in wildlife conservation, and motivates you to continue in this field?

My deep love and respect for Mother Nature and all her creations have driven my choice. From the tiniest creatures to the largest land mammals, every day brings new wonders and challenges, making this journey both unique and memorable.

Having witnessed the damage and injustice inflicted on wildlife and nature by our species, my motivation stems from a sense of duty. We are all part of the Earth, and we are responsible for respecting and protecting the creatures we share it with. Wildlife conservation is not just a job for me; it’s a commitment to ensuring a harmonious coexistence.

Shivam conducted a tour for distinguished visitors Miss Universe Great Britain Jessica Page and runners-up Alisha Cowie, Harriotte Lane and Claudia Todd at the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre, Mathura, this year. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

What do you love most about your job?

The favourite part of my job is observing the incredible diversity of life, from the tiniest insects to the majestic elephants. Interacting with kids and people, and fostering discussions about the beauty and importance of nature adds an extra layer of joy to my work.

What is your vision for the future?

My vision is simple yet profound. I aim to spread awareness about wildlife conservation. Having connected with over 15,000 individuals, my focus is on educating and inspiring the younger generation. Often, as kids, we innocently enjoy circuses and animal-centric shows, unaware of the harsh realities they conceal. I want to ensure that the younger generation sees both sides of the coin.

Additionally, I seek to shift human perspectives and overcome our inherent selfishness. The ultimate goal is to foster a world where humans and animals coexist peacefully. I hope to encourage as many people as possible to join the cause of wildlife conservation.

Shivam describes spreading awareness among the youth on cruelty faced by captive elephants as the most powerful aspect of his role, as he urges them to #RefuseToRide. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

A message for our readers?

As we tread through life’s journey, let’s adopt a minimalistic lifestyle to protect our environment. Wild animals deserve their natural habitats; we should strive to ensure they never become captives in our world. Let’s extend love and respect to all the creatures of Mother Nature.

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