Published: 01st July 2021
The Thing About Wildlife: Get your BTS fix from this podcast hosted by young wildlifers
TTAW is a podcast that should definitely feature on your list because of the interesting stories and experiences shared by those who care and study the wild. New episode drops every Sunday, people
While Ishika Ramakrishna was in the Nicobar Islands researching the interaction between humans and other non-human primates, Akshay Surendra was working in the forests of the Andaman Islands. It seemed like the experiences they had in the field — before, during and after this particular research project — were amassing a wealth of experience-driven content. "There is so much more to being a wildlifer, conservationist, ecologist and so on — those on-field stories are hardly shared. Our fields are rife with challenges," says Ishika. Plus, since they were batchmates pursuing MSc in Wildlife Biology and Conservation at National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru, they met and were privy to several other experiences and stories of other wildlifers.
So when story upon story piles up, you know you've got to share!
That's how The Thing About Wildlife's first episode dropped on June 27, 2021. If you haven't heard it yet, the podcast the duo initiated is going to be about the behind-the-scenes stories of wildlifers. The idea was to have deep and insightful conversations with those who are or have been on the field. After discussing this for the longest time, the duo put these things in motion in May 2020, when they decided to record all 12 episodes throughout the year and start putting out the episodes every Sunday from June 27, 2021. The first episode titled #01 The Thing about Elephants with Dr Nishant Srinivasaiah was with the noted behavioural ecologist who studies Asian elephants in a human-dominated landscape. "Akshay and I personally admire so many of those people whom we have recorded these sessions on Zoom with. So much so that we are already convinced that there should be a Season 2 to ensure we talk to more and more people," shares the 26-year-old.
These were unscripted conversations, and so, the duo made a conscious effort to well.. not be too self-conscious. Which did lend a certain easy-breezy style to the conversations. It also meant that they learnt a few lessons of their own. "We learnt several technical lessons around recording a podcast while working on this. Initially, we were even reluctant to share our opinions but then realised that we have a substantial experience of our own and we should be open to sharing it," says Ishika who was born and brought up in Mumbai and is currently based out of Bengaluru. Akshay (29) is a Doctoral Student at Yale School of the Environment and is currently in Sri Lanka doing fieldwork, while Ishika is Doctoral Fellow at Centre for Wildlife Studies.
Expect episodes on plants, forest ecosystems, primates, spiders and so many more exciting topics. Also, if you are wondering if the podcast will seem like a conversation within a close-knit circle of wildlifers, rest assured that this won't be the case. Not only does the duo request the guests to simplify if a certain technical term creeps in, the written introduction of every episode, available on Spotify, Google Podcasts and other avenues, will come with names of popular writing and journals pertaining to the topic with little notes thrown in as well. This goes a long way in enriching our experience as listeners.
The wildlifers the duo picked were more than happy to share their experiences because the questions were not just about their research, it was about how they spent time on the field, what did they do all day and even what they had for lunch, in a few instances! "The podcast will help wildlife aspirants get the true picture of what it is like to be on the field, not the romantic version. Other listeners will understand that being on the field has its own challenges," says the youngster. It was when Ishika was interning at the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust in Ladakh a long time ago, taking in the beautiful landscape along with the occasional wildlife sighting like that of the golden eagle or blue sheep, that she was convinced that wildlife is her calling.
Maybe, one of the instances from the episodes will kindle your interest or firm up your resolve with regards to pursuing this field too. Who knows?
To tune in check out anchor.fm/ttaw