EP #3 OF #WILDWOMENINTERVIEWS with Janaki Lenin
As a professional naturalist, Mittal Gala is an interpreter of nature for tourists visiting wildlife reserves. Her knowledge makes all the difference to a guest experiencing the wild for an all too brief visit.
Much of our wildlife tourism is focused on the tiger. Mittal explains how resorts and agents sell the experience of seeing a tiger in the wild which raises the expectations of a sighting. As soon as the occupants of one vehicle spot one, word spreads to other safari vehicle drivers who converge at the spot, often leading to traffic jams in the middle of a forest. This is also the reason why guests are crestfallen when they don’t see a striped cat. But there is much more to Indian wildlife, and she is convinced guests can appreciate the lesser-known species.
Mittal says she’s suffered sexism on the job, of colleagues and guests remarking about her looks and asking personal questions. She blamed herself for these instances, thinking she had allowed them to happen by being friendly. She feels the industry hasn’t taken the issue of women employees’ safety seriously. Were anyone to misbehave with them, there is no clear protocol for lodging and investigating complaints.
Mittal is taking a break from being a naturalist and works as a project coordinator for the Bird Count India, a citizen science program under the umbrella of Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) in Bangalore. She finds joy in being out in nature, spotting birds, spiders, and frogs.
To listen to Mittal’s tales of exciting encounters with tigers and crocodiles, watch the interview:
Watch Episode 1 of #WildWomenInterviews with Janaki Lenin here
Watch Episode 2 of #WildWomenInterviews with Janaki Lenin here