Indian Government’s conflicts between tigers and tourists
Last year, the Supreme Court of India imposed a temporary ban on tourism in key regions of the prominent tiger reserves with the main intention to control the declining population of tigers. However, the ban could not last long and it was lifted within three months with some conditions. The Supreme Court gave directives to the state-managed reserves to follow the new guidelines formulated by the National Tiger Conservation Authority. Now, the big question that crops out here is how efficiently the states are abiding by the new guidelines?
WHAT EXACTLY ARE THE NEW GUIDELINES?
• The guidelines include that the tourism activities must be restricted to 20 per cent in the core areas of the park.
• The states must draft new laws and regulations to regulate the tiger tourism.
• The tourist facilities or the hotels nestled in the core areas of the reserve must be phased out in a timely manner.
• The revenue that is obtained from the pilgrim centers situated in the park must be properly utilized for the welfare of local communities.
• The development of new hotels must not take place in the core area of the parks.
WHAT A BIG DEAL IN IMPLEMENTING THESE GUIDELINES?
The guidelines are creating some sort of confusion among some states. If these guidelines are fully implemented, then the states can lose a major chunk of the revenue that comes from the tiger tourism. Some states have given a deaf ear to the guidelines and the situation is same what was earlier. According to the state governments, the guidelines are no doubt help a great deal in controlling wildlife and the environment, but it is also killing the tiger tourism to some extent. The states cannot hope to lose the revenues that come from the tourism and hotels in parks.
Madhya Pradesh is one of the most affected states from the new regulation of the Supreme Court. Most of the parks of this state do not have the Local Advisory Committees, an utmost necessity according to the new guidelines. The main task of the committee is to decide which particular area of the park must be thrown open for the public and the number of jeeps that should be allowed in the park. Due to the lack of committees, it has certainly become an impossible task to determine whether the guidelines are effectively followed or not.
MEASURES TAKEN TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM
There are mixed opinions among the people when it comes to implementing the guidelines. Most of the people believe that tourism is a great threat to the existence of tigers while some have a perception that it helps in avoiding poaching activities, illegal wildlife trade and create employment for the locals living near the park.
In order to find a solution to the problem a two-day conference was recently held in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh. It was attended by the several well-known speakers from India, Australia, South Africa and Kenya. At the conference, some prominent suggestions were made and forwarded to the state and central governments for their feedback. According to some of the officials, there is an urgent need to relook the guidelines so that it does not go on to impact the Indian wildlife tours and harm the tourism industry.