“Influencing people is not easy. It is a slow and gradual process…” expresses a young conservationist and a lover of nature, Arundeep Singha, from Silchar, Assam.
We are living in times when one after the other, nations are declaring a state of climate emergency. In times like these, it is also the work of conservationists and social scientists that significantly contribute towards sustainable solutions for environmental issues. Educated in Environmental Sciences from North Eastern Hill University, Shillong, Arundeep is one of the many young individuals actively investigating environmental issues in the Himalayas. He is currently working in WWF India for a project called High Altitude Tiger Project in Sikkim. Arundeep moved to Gangtok, Sikkim in 2018 but often enough the nature of his work summons the vagabond traveller that has always been a significant part of who he is.
L: View from Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary, Sikkim R: View from Kupup, Sikkim. “I could visit these places over and over again, never to be satisfied. Photos: Arundeep Singha
A lover of nature since childhood, Arundeep chose to marry passion with profession when he decided to pursue his post graduate studies in Environmental Sciences from NEHU, Shillong. Studying at the university exposed him to a large pool of case studies that gave him a deep understanding of the deteriorating conditions of our planet. Given that we only have 11 short years left to save our planet from seemingly irreversible damage due to climate change, conservation and sustainability studies is gaining much importance in the domain of research across the world.
Arundeep believes that “climate change is not just a natural phenomenon but an anthropological push to the doom of our planet Earth.” This crucial realisation in addition to his engagement with WWF India has helped him look at environmental issues through a multi-disciplinary lens. Arundeep is also a passionate photographer and traveller. His life is an example of how working for the environment with communities often is a multifaceted experience. The journey of individuals like Arundeep usually is an interplay of the arts, the sciences, travel and communication. All of it introduces the individual to a spectrum of new emotions and knowledge which is usually unique to the spaces that evoke them.
L: Golf link, Shillong R: Flowers of Cherry Blossom blooms in the city of Shillong. A variety not common in all of India. Photos: Arundeep Singha
“I love travelling. I have been travelling a lot since I got my first Scooty from Shillong to Silchar with a scooty! and back. Be it a drive to the wettest place on Earth (Mawsynram, Meghalaya) in the rain or not, I simply love travelling. Luckily, the current project includes a lot of travelling in Sikkim. So, big Yay for me!” declares Arundeep who is currently in an advent around Sikkim researching about Tigers and their habitat in the Himalayas.
L: Exploring one of the hidden caves in Mawsynram, Meghalaya R: Umiam lake in Meghalaya. The lake is seen en route to Guwahati. Photos: Arundeep Singha
Although travelling to places and understanding them appears to be an ideal profession it also comes with challenges. As Arun puts it, the communication of discovered emotions and knowledge to communities is usually challenging and may not always translate to successful conservation. “All I am trying to do is to get people mesmerised as I am by an image so that they can appreciate it and start their own conservation battle for their own present and future” expresses Arundeep.
L: Colored boats in Dawki, Meghalaya R: Solo scooty ride from Shillong to home in Silchar. A 5 hours straight ride from 6 am back in December,2017. Photos: Arundeep Singha
He adds with concern “without conservation of nature, where will some find inspirations, wisdoms and knowledge which our predecessor have gathered from nature? and the peace we get when we are away from the stressful city life? all of it is linked like a chain. A loss of a single species will disrupt the entire ecosystem balance which will not only affect life in the particular area but it will grapple us eventually. Every single species matter.” Coming from the Meitei community that inhabits the region beyond the chicken-neck Siliguri corridor of Northeast India, Arundeep is deeply moved and connected to indigenous practices where he feels lies several answers to current environmental issues.
L: Stills from Meitei wedding R: Nongkrem dance as performed by the Khasi tribal men, women and children in Meghalaya. Photos: Arundeep Singha
According to the valuable experience Arundeep has had so far in his fulfilling profession and passion, the purpose of a conservationist is evidently beyond solely creating scientific understanding and is more about “making people realise the worrisome future that we are all heading towards.” We are only hopeful and positive that he will achieve it.
This post is written by Animesh Gautam. All photographs are contributed by Arundeep Singha.