Tiger tourism ban blasted

by Alister POOLE on July 25, 2012

A decision by the Indian Supreme Court to limit tourism to its country’s tiger reserves was criticised by campaign groups dedicated to responsible travel.

The ruling is mainly aimed at protecting endangered animals such as the tiger – of which as few as 3,200 remain in the wild – and will cover “core zones” of over 40 reserves. Julian Matthew, Travel Operators for Tigers’ chairman, believes that the action might have a reverse effect.

Matthews commented that India’s best visited parks always have the best protection as they can afford it due to revenue from entrance fees. Problems remain outside the park gates, Matthews insisted, and not inside them. He then asked that if tigers hate the interference for just a few hours per day, then why are so many of them living and breeding in reserves such as Pench, Ranthambhore and Bandhavgarh?

Matthews added that 17 tiger reserves in India have either few or no tigers at all left in them as tourism hasn’t been allowed or isn’t allowed near them. Instead, it was concluded, loggers, cattle, poachers, insurgents, mining criminals and farming have taken over.

India plays host to over half of the planet’s estimated 3,200 tigers, most of which live in wildlife reserves that have been set up since the 70s. Inside the reserves, hundreds of hotels, as well as shops, have been operating and mainly cater to wildlife-loving tourists.

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