So the Indian Government are thinking of stopping tiger tours and tiger tourism in a bid to save tigers?!??
This is the kind of bizarre thinking the National Tiger Conservation Authorities have for trying to save tigers.
For six years, I (and many others) have been saying to NTCA and Forest Department that where tourism exists, tigers are still surviving. Corbett has the highest numbers of tigers left in India and 65000 visitors – a fact not mentioned. Bandhavgarh has 5 breeding females and 14 cubs in the Tala Tourism zone today and with 45000 visits – unbelievably high densities – given that tourism is meant to be ‘killing’ tigers and destroying habitat.
The reality in India is: NO tourism = NO Tigers (or very few). The 15 tiger reserves that have no tigers, have historically had very little tourism.
There are many reasons why tourism saves tigers. Alternative livelihoods and the presence of tourists prevents destructive activities such as marginal farming, poaching, grazing and forestry. Forest staff are paid better and are accountable for their work. Tourism channels resources into the regions and enables the millions of people who care about nature to visit them. In turn this provides millions of additional dollars in the Forest department’s coffers to return into conservation efforts.
Habitats that have no visiting tourist are in a desperately poor state of health; overgrazed and burnt – simply ‘unloved’. You don’t have to be a wildlife research scientist to see this! I am not justifying the damage mass tourism can cause (outside of park boundaries of course) – a lot of it is poor and unsustainable. For years I have been advocating better rules, regulations and ENFORCEMENT.
ONLY the Government can affect this by laying down a template for the effective use of tourism. Blaming tourism is just an easy target, it is those in power who have the capacity to make a difference.