As we’ve mentioned in previous GGT stories about the endangered Bengal tiger, India is home to the world’s largest tiger population. For the time being, the country’s government has decided that the best way to protecting these majestic creatures is by shutting down ecotourism activities in tiger reserves with a temporary tiger tourism ban.
The decision, which was sparked by a case filed by wildlife activist Ajay Dubey, also imposed a 10,000 rube fine ($178) on six states that did not comply with the court’s April decision, which required that all states must identify core zones and buffer zones of their tiger reserves.
Dubey believes that the ecotourism footprint generated by India’s 40 tiger reserves is doing more harm than good to the big cats’ habitats. Toby Sinclair, vice president for the Ecotourism Society of India, says the government is simply allowing too many visitors into the parks. “The eco in ecotourism has changed to economy,” Sinclair adds. The temporary ban is in place until India’s Supreme Court can substantiate these claims.
Those who adamantly oppose the ban insist that, by stopping tiger tourism, the government is actually helping poachers, who are primarily responsible for the 97% decrease in tiger population over the last 100 years.
“We are perplexed that the Supreme Court has chosen to disregard the clear evidence that proves that wildlife tourism within India Tiger Parks is not harming tigers,” said Julian Matthews, chairman of Travel Operators for Tigers. “The highest densities of tigers can be found today in the most heavily visited tiger reserves, including Corbett, Kaziranga and Bandhavgarh.”
It’s monsoon season in India now, so, thankfully, most of the reserves are closed anyway. But when the final decision on the tiger tourism ban comes down on August 22, we hope the government, wildlife advocates, and responsible ecotourism operators will work together to manage the preservation of tiger population in a long-term sustainable fashion, re-opening the habitats for the educational opportunities they provide to tourists. We believe that the more eyes India has in its forests, the more poachers’ illegal activities will be deterred. –DeMarco Williams
If you enjoyed reading India’s Tiger Tourism ban, you might also like: