Kolkata: Citizen scientists are playing a significant role in conservation of wildlife by contributing to increased environmental awareness among the masses, according a new study.
Researchers from Duke University surveyed 'citizen scientists' who have volunteered with two Bangalore-based NGOs Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Centre for Wildlife Studies and found that citizen science projects greatly contributed to increased environmental awareness among the general public.
It also reported direct impacts on conservation including shift in formal profession by volunteers to become conservationists, initiation of new conservation organisations or groups, or just as opinion leaders influencing their social circles for the cause.
According to the study, over 80 per cent of the respondents acknowledged increased knowledge and concern for wildlife rooted in science.
More than 60 per cent said they were able to use the knowledge garnered during volunteering, in other aspects of their lives.
Several also indicated greater spiritual understanding about life in general.
Since 1990s, over 4000 such volunteers have been trained by WCS to survey wildlife populations and local communities across several Indian states including Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and others.
Erika Weinthal of Duke University, who did the study says citizen science ? defined as public participation in scientific research has been increasingly used in large-scale data collection and monitoring of environmental quality since the mid-1990s.
Krithi K Karanth of WCS and co-author of the study said saving wildlife needed engagement of as many stakeholders as possible and it included the general public.
"The data show that conservation benefits of citizen science are far greater than previously recognised. Volunteer participants have, over the years, had direct impacts on conservation in numerous ways," he said.