Wildlife Tourism – New Study, New Revelations

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Wildlife tourism has averaged 15% growth in India, mirroring many countries. This growth is reflected in the increase in visitors to many Indian protected areas. Krithi K. Karanth, Ruth DeFries, Arjun Srivathsa and Vishnupriya Sankaraman examine the attitudes and perceptions of visitors to three of India’s most popular and well known National Parks and Tiger Reserves, namely Nagarahole, Kanha and Ranthambore.

These are the highlights of their study from a forthcoming paper in the journal Oryx.

  • Wildlife tourism
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Tourists Breaking Rules, Tadoba

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This image shows two tourists on foot in the Kolsa zone of Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR), in Maharashtra. This happened during the afternoon safari on 10th Apr 2012. Forest authorities should take stringent action against both the tourists as well as accompanying the forest guide who allowed it. Private vehicles should also be banned inside the national park. … Read More

Sambar Deer with Dustbin Cover, Pench

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A dustbin cover stuck in the neck of a Sambhar Deer (Rusa unicolor) in Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh. On 12th March 2012, I spotted this deer early morning at 6am, and it was desperately trying to get this cover out of its neck. Unfortunately, we could not help. A guide from the forest department accompanied us who promised to inform his higher authorities so I just took a picture and we moved on. I dont know whether … Read More

Unregulated Tourism at Kaas Plateau, Maharashtra.

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Kaas flower plateau is Maharashtra’s valley of flowers. The plateau is located between 1200 – 1240 metres and is about 25km from Satara town. As the monsoon sets in (Sept / Oct), the plateau and the surrounding hillsides come alive with millions of blooming wild flowers. The carpet changes colour every passing day through the monsoon.

This spectacle attracts many tourists and photographers resulting in unregulated tourism causing vehicular traffic, air and noise pollution and pressure on the fragile habitat. … Read More

Q: How can I stop a tourism-centric hotel project being planned in the heart of a wildlife sanctuary by a State Tourism Department together with the Forest department? The project is in its early planning stage.

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Answer from Praveen Bhargav, Trustee, Wildlife First:

  • The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (WLPA) makes no distinction between a private and a government tourism company. So a State Tourism department is not exempted from the provisions of the WLPA. (Link to the Wildlife Protection Act).
  • Section 29 of the WLPA prohibits any kind of destruction or diversion of habitat within a Sanctuary without a permit and no such permit shall be granted unless it is for the improvement of
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Beyond The Pretty Picture — Giving Back To Nature Through Photography

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There are probably more amateur nature photographers in India than in any other developing country in the world. India’s most popular web portal for sharing nature photography, India Nature Watch, has several thousand members, some of who now routinely produce the kind of jaw-dropping images that were once the exclusive preserve of magazines like National Geographic or Geo. While this is something to be proud of, the question we are asking today is, “is it time for India’s wildlife … Read More

Wild Dog (Dhole) With a Plastic Bottle, Nagarahole

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Photographer Mahesh Bhat shot this wild dog chewing on a plastic bottle near the Sunkadakatte elephant camp in Nagarahole National Park in Karnataka.

Irresponsibly discarding garbage is one of the downsides of tourism in protected areas. This bottle could have been thrown by one of the tourists who visited the elephant camp or the forest rest house in the heart of the park.… Read More

Corbett Records Highest Tiger Deaths on its 75th anniversary

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Corbett reserve and surrounding areas in Uttarakhand have recorded the highest tiger mortality rate this year. TRAFFIC India, a wildlife trade monitoring agency, has recorded 19 deaths in Corbett this year. Park management maintains that most of the deaths were natural. Observers are concerned that the high tourist numbers in Corbett are affecting tiger’s migratory habits and bringing them more into conflict with surrounding villages. According to the head of TRAFFIC India, the biggest threat faced by Corbett’s tigers is … Read More

Be a Conservation-friendly Wildlife Tourist, Nature Lover or Photographer

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(With inputs from Praveen Bhargav and Ramki Sreenivasan)

Merely visiting a wildlife reserve or being a wildlife photographer does nothing to save wildlife.  In fact, uncontrolled visitation by tourists and ‘nature lovers’ is leading to the degradation of reserves and the ‘wilderness experience’ that one craves.  But we can offset the impact of our visits (somewhat) by becoming conservation watchdogs.

The number of people visiting wildlife reserves for recreation is increasing rapidly, thanks largely to an upwardly mobile middle class … Read More

Conservationists Oppose PIL to Ban Tiger Tourism in India

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The Supreme Court is hearing a PIL filed by social activist, Ajay Dubey, which proposes banning tourism in the country’s tiger reserves. Dubey’s contention is that excessive tiger tourism is disturbing the natural habits of tigers and also points to an incident earlier this year, where a tourist vehicle struck and killed a tigress and the subsequent death of two cubs she was rearing.

Many activists and tour operators contend that tiger tourism should be better managed, but resist calling … Read More

Mangalajodi — A Village Of Bird Protectors In Orissa

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How do you convert a village of hardened poachers into committed conservationists? Read on to find out.

Mangalajodi village is situated on the banks of Chilika lake in Odisha (formerly Orissa). Chilika Lake is a brackish water lake, with lagoonal characteristics, spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Orissa state on the east coast of India. It is Asia’s largest brackish water lake. It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds in the Indian subcontinent. The lake … Read More

Private Tour Operator Vehicles Banned in Karnataka’s Protected Areas

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From September 1st, only state-owned Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR) will be permitted to operate in sanctuaries and national parks. This was based on the conclusion that the current process for granting permission to tour operators was intransparent and discriminatory. Jungle Lodges and Resorts stated that it was able to meet this demand. It was also decided that JLR would reserve 50 percent of the vehicles for its own guests and the other 50 percent for guests from other resorts. … Read More

Eco-tourism Guidelines to Benefit Local Communities

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The Union Environment Ministry has proposed Eco-tourism guidelines that will end up empowering and benefitting the local communities. All tourist facilities within 5 kms of any protected area will be monitored by local communities going forward. The activities of tour operators and resorts will be monitored to ensure that no disturbance is caused to animals while taking visitors into the protected areas. Also, the State Governments will impose a conservation cess on all privately run tourist facilities. The rate of … Read More

Bharatpur — Can we Regain this Bird Paradise?

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The year 2004 was a fateful one for Bharatpur, India’s most famous bird sanctuary. In order to appease farmers belonging to particular community, the then Chief Minister of Rajasthan, issued an order diverting water from the Ajan Bund away from the Bharatpur marshes and into the fields surrounding the park, unleashing catastrophic consequences for this 250 year-old artificial wetland. Since then, Bharatpur has never been the same. While various schemes to bring water to the park are under consideration, bird Read More

Unsustained Tourism a Cause for Concern across Tiger Reserves

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Sujit Banerji, Chairman of the Forest, Environment and Eco-tourism Committee and former Secretary, Tourism, Government of India, said this while addressing a seminar on tourism in Guwahati organized by the Tour Operators Association of Assam (TOAA) that tourism around Kaziranga would soon be shifted from the core area of this national park. “Buffer areas need to be well forested and so once wildlife starts inhabiting these areas, pressure of tourism is shifted from the core areas. There has to be … Read More