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Saving Bengal Tigers from Tourism

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Download The Supreme Court in India has ordered a temporary ban on tourism in more than 40 of the country's central government-run tiger reserves.

Tiger numbers have shrunk alarmingly in India in recent decades.

A 2011 census counted about 1,700 tigers in the wild. A century ago there were estimated to be 100,000 tigers in India.

As Shuriah Niazi reports from Madhya Pradesh the ban has sparked protests the tiger tourism industry.

India is home to the world’s largest tiger population.

Every year more than half a million people travel to India to go on tiger safaris.

The industry is worth around two and half million US dollars each year.

But tigers are also one of the most endangered mammals on earth.

Poaching is the main problem.  

But according to conservationist Ajay Dubey, commercial activities and human disturbance, including tourism, is to blame.

“I think tourism has never helped in conserving tiger population. In many tiger reserves in India, where entire tiger population were wiped out, tourism was going on in full swing. Tourist vehicles entering the core areas of reserves traumatize the tigers. Brutal murder of a tigress in Bandhavgarh in 2010 by some tourists is an example of irresponsible tourism. I think regulated tourism is a much better option. The conservation of tigers was getting adversely affected by mindless tourism. Tourism should be as per Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which says that tourism should not be allowed in core areas.”

So disturbed with the impact tourism was happening, Ajay Dubey decided to take his concerns all the way to the Supreme Court.

He filed a petition saying that the government must regulate tourist activities in tiger reserves.

“I wanted the implementation of the 1972 Wildlife Protection Act. The law says that critical tiger habitats, the core areas, should be kept inviolate of human activities. The implementation of the act is important in order to conserve tigers.”

And last month, the Supreme Court ruled in his favour by imposing a temporary ban for tiger tourism in their “core areas”.

The Supreme Court will give its final verdict on August 22 after investigating whether tourism in India’s tiger parsk is in fact low impact.

Wasan Qadri from the National Tiger Conservation Authority welcomes the decision.

“The Supreme Court has passed an order that there would be no tourism in the core area of the tiger reservations. The Court has directed all states to follow the verdict and to file an affidavit about this. The court had also made a fine of 200 US dollars as compulsary because states had not filed any affidavit despite twice orders from the court.”

But tiger tourism operators are very worried about the future.

Aditya Singh is the owner of a resort inside Rathambore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan state.

“I am not OK with this order. It’s a Supreme Court decision, but it’s currently under trial. I won’t comment on the order. But it will surely affect our livelihood. There are many small towns and villages around tiger reservation area that depend on this tourism. This is a disaster.”

In February an entire village was relocated in Rajasthan to protect the animals.

Those who were moved got new land, some cash and livestock worth up to 20,000 US dollars each.

There are still 11 villages with a population of nearly 2,500 people in the heart of Sariska tiger reserve in Rajasthan.

Anil Singh’s life depends on the tiger reserves – just like 1800 others from his village.

He works as a driver at Satpura tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh, while others as tour guides or works in the hotels.

“If the ban continues, we will be left without any job. I don’t have other skills to survive. I think banning tourism isn’t going to solve any problem. Thousands of people depend on tourism for their livelihood. I think the Supreme Court must look into all existing facts.“


Last Updated ( Saturday, 18 August 2012 17:26 )  

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