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Monday, October 5, 2009

Tiger Safaris India

Wildlife Safaris - Tiger Tours

Come October, the monsoon ends and National Parks and tiger reserves open up for visitors. Though the number of tigers in India is constantly dwindling, the animal finds increasing interest among the naturalists and wildlife lovers.

Severely endangered the majestic tiger is World's most charismatic animal. It's aura revolves around mystic charm, abundant fear and intrigue which humans find irresistible. Tourist flock in thousands from every state of India and the World to have just one fleeting glimpse of the big cat. Tigers are shy of humans and contrary to popular belief they fear man.

Man eating is an aberrant behavior and the cat is literary a gentle giant. It's main purpose is to serve the ecosystem as top/tertiary carnivore in the food chain. It governs the population of herbivores which are it's main prey base. The tiger's presence in the forest acts as an indicator that the ecosystem is intact.

The preferred habitat is dense forest and sometimes tall grasslands like in Kaziranga National Park. Unlike the lion it is not an open country or savanna dwelling animal. Neither does it hunt or live in big prides like it's cousin, but is a solitary animal. The pairing takes place for mating after which the two separate. The female rears the cubs, while the male guards from afar rarely visiting the family.

The tigress is fiercely protective of the cubs and does not let the male come near nor share the food. There is no danger to the cubs from the male which has sired them, but other males will kill the cubs instantly. On rare occasion the whole family can be seen together.

The tiger now survives in protected areas like the National Parks, tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries. Outside these areas in the unprotected forests the tiger's survival is uncertain, and it has probably become extinct in many of them.

The protected areas serve many a purpose, one is to conserve the tiger as well as the whole ecosystem. The other is eco tourism which brings in revenue to the locals and the tourism industry including the hotels and wildlife resorts. Subsequently tourism creates awareness among people and encourages them to conserve nature. Tourist also act as an eye on the way things are in the habitat and perhaps help protect the forests in this manner.

In the beginning of the safari season flood gates open up for tour operators in India who get busy selling wildlife packages. Package tours in group are preferred mode of travel for tiger safaris amongst foreign tourists. The Indian tourists prefer family trips or travel independent. The hotel industry is linked with the tour operators in India and abroad. The accommodation is fully booked during the holiday seasons much in advance.

With awareness, tourism has become more responsible. The industry and governance sees the benefit of sharing revenue, jobs and income with the local tribes who are thus encouraged to conserve their natural wealth. Although bit ironical these very people have to be shifted from the core areas of the parks in order to give free space to the wild denizens. This is imperative and the solution is to delivers generous package which justifies the relocation. Proper compensation helps them resettle elsewhere successfully and make a better living.

Responsible tourism is again an imperative in order to make the local endemic tribal communities understand the benefit of conservation and tourism. Many tour operators and hotels employ local people and share benefits with them. In return these very communities strive hard to protect the inheritance.

Though there is much noise about ill effect of tourism, here it is not justified as wildlife nor the ecosystem has ever suffered from controlled tourism. On the contrary parks like Kanha National Park, Bandhavgarh, Corbett, Pench, Ranthambhore and many others have been a conservation success. This in spite of heavy load of tourists every year.
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