A career called Birding Guide/Naturalist (a student of natural history) is surely unconventional and very few, perhaps, could think of or aspire for. I keep meeting several interesting people in this unconventional field, but Apurba Sonowal (in the pics below) stands out to be strikingly different in his approach. First, he is the youngest naturalist I’ve ever met and worked with; second, he thinks ahead, thinks long term – that it’s a job/skill which needs to be learned working in the field, in a very hard way before he can get a proper table stake. Third, he is passionate and I mean it, quite passionate about nature and birding. More so, he is armed with new-age technology and a Graduate degree academically that supplements enough cognitive prowess.
With Apurba’s example, let me tell you what I think about the future and what this career can entail.
- NOTHING! if the passion is not there, don’t even try, at times it can kick the shit out…Be Aware! if you don’t dare don’t try.
- A LOT! if the skill is fully acquired, the reward is going to be a lot in the future wherein the general life and job of people are becoming mostly captive and inhouse. A naturalist will be demanded more (not just for birders) to connect them to nature practically and responsibly without abusing it. Hence, higher fees for the professional service. Matter of fact, with or without a guide the experience can be sky and earth different.
- The seasoned (5-10 yers+ experience) naturalists who worked their way up, are highly regarded and demanded, the fee they charge goes by their experience, name, and fame – The aspect I like most is that a naturalist LEADS! She/he may lead a single client to a diverse group from all across the globe.
- BTY, it’s not about the guiding only, it’s about managing the show, collaborating, organizing, and providing a professional experience that brings repeat clients. The higher the repo and business skills, the higher will be the remuneration on the table.
- In this age, there will be a lot many people from the cushion seeking jobs, hooked on to Google, FB, and Insta (let’s put me in the same boat) will want to see and share the real world/natural history which is way different than seeing it virtually. The point here is that exploring independently and being solitary without guidance will not be easy. Wherein most part of the young life goes in search of 99% (Mommy, Papa, Society all wants it that way) and then a great amount of time is spent in search of a jackpot career, post that mid-life goes on climbing the corporate ladder and rest in balancing work-life (wherein work overpowers Life). So, all of a sudden, climbing the real world ladder in search of life alone will be difficult – and these smart, refined folks globally will be the clients of the Guide/Naturalist.
- Job requirement/qualification: Passion for nature, wildlife, birds, mountains, forests and the ability to find it out working up-hill, downhill on feet, and traveling to remote locations (marks in exams not going to cut the cake, though more the education merrier it is)
- Performance and success measures: Ability to catch the “call of the wild” + integrity
Agree or not, to sum up…An alternative career or a dream job never comes or is given, one who goes for it, works for it, gets it.
- This write-up originates from my birding trip to the Michimi Hills, Arunachal Pradesh. Wherein, Apurba was my guide. The birding guide profession is still at a nascent stage and fast emerging as a mainstream career route with some already established their name quite well. It’s purely based on the credibility of the person and in no way a recommendation for a sure-shot career.
- Apurba provided his consent to share this story and pictures.