Women In Wildlife: Encounters With Zoologist Shweta Kadam

She is the Managing Partner at JungleDen Wildlife Tours, an eco tour agency that specialises in providing incredible wildlife experiences. Kadam's work at JungleDen has inspired countless others to explore the wild
An Indian tiger male tiger in Ranthambore
An Indian tiger male tiger in RanthamboreShutterstock

Did you know less than 10 per cent of wildlife rangers worldwide are women? A 2019 report by the World Wildlife Fund showcased this troubling fact, particularly when you consider that more than 50 per cent of conservation science graduates are women. When it comes to women working in the field of wildlife conservation, the numbers are low, but this has been gradually changing. Shweta Kadam's fascination with wildlife began when she attended a lecture by her Zoology professor on the lush jungles of India. This experience led her to pursue her passion for wildlife, and she now serves as the Managing Partner at JungleDen Wildlife Tours, an eco-tour agency that specialises in providing incredible wildlife experiences. "My interest in science subjects brought me closer to Zoology and then Oceanography. The study of living organisms has always amazed me since childhood, hence I ended up being a Zoologist."

Kadam started JungleDen Wildlife Tours in 2014 when she was in her post-graduation's last semester. "Slowly and steadily we got everything in place, and today we are in the industry with a more than 500+ guest list and growing every day." They offer complete wildlife tour packages in India including safaris, stays, meals, and transportation. JungleDen provides exclusive tours to the top five tiger reserves in India, namely Tadoba, Pench, Kanha, Bandhavgarh, and Ranthambore. They offer customised packages for each group or family and guided wildlife tours for those who want to connect with nature and learn more about the jungles of India. "We believe everyone should have access to nature, regardless of age. Our services include guided nature and birding trails, as well as customised packages."

The Journey In Wildlife Tourism As A Woman

As a woman, there are some constraints in this industry, says Kadam
As a woman, there are some constraints in this industry, says KadamShweta Kadam

Kadam's journey has not been easy. Even within the wildlife tourism circuit, there was no support for a company founded by a woman. "I won’t say I faced 'obstacles', but yes as a woman, there are some constraints in this industry. People accept you only if you are strong and consistent in your work. I followed my passion and did not give up." Her determination and resilience helped her overcome these challenges. One of her most significant accomplishments was leading a group of 82 students alone on an excursion, which marked a turning point in her career. Today, Kadam's work at JungleDen has made a remarkable impact and her passion has inspired countless others to appreciate and protect the natural beauty of India's wildlife.

Field Experiences

Kadam has had many close encounters with the wild, but there is one that remains close to her heart. "The most memorable incident that will remain close to my heart happened on our first zoology excursion with the Wilson College Zoology Department in 2015," she says. "We went to the Turia gate of Pench Tiger Reserve to search for big cats and other animals. It was a cold, foggy morning when we entered the park. We had six Gypsys with students and teachers. At a distance, we saw a Gypsy vehicle waiting and watching some movements. We rushed there and asked them, "Kuch dikha kya?" which is a very common and popular line used by people on safari. The guide pointed straight into the bushes, and we could spot three sub-adult tiger cubs (Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh), who were the cubs of the famous tigress Collarwali, also known as Mataram in Pench. The guide said, 'Follow us. These cubs will come out on the road.' And yes, it did happen- three sub-adult cubs walking one behind the other was a magnificent view. As our Gypsys were far apart, we suddenly saw two sub-adult cubs near our Gypsy, approximately 2-3 feet away. That was the time we were almost frozen with fear. But we could not take our eyes off the incredible sight. This memory is etched in everyone's heart."

"Being a Zoologist, I impart my knowledge to our guests and connect them with nature. The team always delivers what it promises. All said and done, we believe in building a good relationship with our clients and we love to see happy faces and memorable journeys for our journey partners." You can read more about her organisation here.

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