Friday, July 19, 2019

Of Tourists & Tourism in Our Tiger Reserves

Kanha National Park sets a fine example of how to manage tourism in the core area.

This sentence above is enough to get the gist of the article to follow. I am pro well regulated tourism and this article is pro tourism. Those who disagree should read more carefully. 

Thankfully destructive hunting days are over, and a better alternative tiger tourism has taken over. I am unabashedly using the phrase tiger tourism albeit a holistic approach depends upon how the industry presents a visit to the reserve and of course our own attitude. Tour operators and hoteliers should present safaris as holistic comprising of many aspects of the reserves. They should not guarantee tiger sightings at all, and promise a more fruitful and wholesome experience.  

Swamp Deer

Singular obsession for sighting tigers should not be there but it will remain, for some species attraction is natural and fascination with a specific animal or bird is quite obvious. Ironically many of the initiated follow the path of tiger obsession including some of the senior officers, VIPs, other privileged souls  with interest in photography and with all the prerogative in their control. 

This singular obsession with our National Animal is natural, thanks to the status that has been created in the past. That it is at the top of the food chain and an apex predator naturally incurs lot of interest among the visitors. It is not only the morphological attraction, the historical pathway that has reduced footprints of this magnificent beast making it rare and endangered. And hence an object of desire.


The animal's own charismatic/behavioral appeal is responsible for obsession with the carnivore. For some association with Hindu religious identities or myths is the reason for attraction though much less a reason as compared with others. The animal is part of many myths and stories and has inspired many writers too. Kipling Stands out! Globally there is a desire to see this animal at least once in a lifetime. What is wrong?   

I have read articles by the erudite that lament the fact that the tiger cannot vote! This is a simple summation of its standing in our country and elsewhere. 

Jeep Safari
Why cannot people see the tiger and admire it in its natural surrounding? 

Those who advocate ban on tourism or limit it to impractical means do have a right to express opinion but the positives far outweighs the negative.  

Does not tourism and the popularity of the carnivore create an equity that which we understand and the politician certainly do?. 

Without tourist (read public) appeal the status of animal would not have been a big botheration for those who consider it as a speck on the horizon. There are many at the helm who consider conservation as an irritant...I hope you get the point. 

With ubiquitous warming and subsequent climate change the environmental concerns should be an imperative which those at helm should be well aware of. To make matters worse global ecosystems are being ravaged on massive scale ....and tourism has nothing to do with this at least in India.  

It is the importance/obsession or fondness for the animal among the common man that propels the administration and our policy makers into sincere action. The vote bank should lend a voice for better conservation practises and a concern for our wilderness. To negate public pressure in this country is like acceptance of incompetence and negligence with gusto. 

Public pressure matters and will continue to matter. The dreadful remedy that thwarts the rise of public concern is to curtain all that is happening by barring public access like in the totalitarian states, and in this case thwarting sustainable tourism. In our country a closeted approach is often followed as regards the management of things. 

Pertaining to my first sentence tourism is conducted as per rules and regulations at Kanha National Park. This I have been observing since more than two decades. My first visit to the park was probably in the year 1972 or maybe earlier. 

At few of the tiger reserves which I will not name since my visitations have been limited there, the safaris are horribly managed and atrocious attitude follows - there is literary a free for all. This is why tiger tourism is looked down upon but this does not stand true for all reserves.      

Setting A New Tourism Paradigm

We as public have to understand that we must cooperate with authorities and strictly follow rules and regulations of the reserves. Singular obsession with the big cat does not deliver much, a holistic approach will really be interesting and will create greater awareness.  

The reserves have so much to offer so indulge in birding as well as in mega fauna, take interest in the microcosm that prevails in these biodiversity hub. Enjoy every aspect of the reserve, follow the guide and the naturalist. All creatures big and small are beautiful and worthy of admiration hence make your safari holistic. 

Do not encourage to break the rules in your haste to see the tiger or other mega fauna. This is a problem in some reserves. 

Stay at responsible resorts which follow the green principles. Those that do not or have encroached should be shunned. Overall keep your carbon footprints small by avoiding materialistic or things of luxury during your stay. Remember sustainability counts use water carefully, do not use material which are not biodegradable, do not waste food and consume less fossil fuels and rely on alternative energy.  

Tiger perhaps will come out of the endangered status one day and we will continue to have an opportunity to look at nature's amazing creation along with other creatures in their habitats. 

Let us be wise and restrained!
Uday works as a naturalist and loves to blog on conservation and emvironmental issues.