India’s Supreme Court Bans Tiger Tourism Across Country
By Radhakrishna Rao | Top News
July 30, 2012
In a major boost to tiger conservation in the country, India’s Supreme Court, in a landmark judgement delivered on July 24, banned tourism in the country’s 41 tiger reserves.
AsianScientist (Jul. 30, 2012) – In a major boost to tiger conservation in the country, India’s Supreme Court, in a landmark judgement delivered on July 24, banned tourism in the country’s 41 tiger reserves.
The court order, which has been welcomed by conservationists and environmentalists in India, was in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PLI) filed by a Bhopal-based activist, Ajay Dubey.
“Whatever may be the statistics or data by different agencies, the fact of the matter is that tigers are on the verge of extinction,” said the court.
Further, the court ruled that, “We make it clear that till further directions are made by the court with respect to the guidelines submitted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), core zone/area in tiger reserves will not be used for tourism.”
Following the Supreme Court order, the Forest Department of the South Indian State of Karnataka ordered a halt to all tourism activities in five tiger reserves — Bandipur, Bhadra, Nagerhole, Anshi-Dandlei, and BRT Tiger Reserve.
It is anticipated that the ban will cause a big set back to the state-owned Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR), which used to operate tourism activities within the state’s tiger reserves.
India which once boasted a tiger population of 60,000 is now left with just 1,700 of the big cat.
Dr. K. Ullas Karanth of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which has done pioneering work for the conservation of the tiger, welcomed the Court order, but added that non-commercial and educational forms of nature tourism and public support to conservation were still valuable.
The NTCA projects that at least 5 to 10 percent of the core area can be used for educational visitors.
The World Bank, which has launched an ambitious tiger conservation initiative, has warned that if current trends continue, it is likely that the tiger would be the first species of large predators to vanish.
The global consensus is that India should join forces with China to pull back the tiger from the brink of certain extinction. But growing demand for tiger parts in China as traditional Chinese medicine stands out as a major factor for the killing of tigers in India’s wild.
It has been widely reported that tiger parts from India are mainly smuggled across into Tibet through porous borders along the states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
And in India, the expansion of human settlements and farming deep into tiger habitats have added to the woes of the tiger population. Says wildlife expert Bittu Sehgal, “The trouble is that politicians want tigers to live in habituated areas.”
Not surprisingly, wildlife conservationists in India believe that it was the success of the Project Tiger, launched in 1973, which resulted in an appreciable increase in the tiger population that ultimately led to international poaching syndicates zeroing in on India.
Billed as the most ambitious and successful wildlife conservation project ever launched, the rigorously implemented Project Tiger helped push up tiger populations to 4,000 by the end of the 1980s through the creation of reserves across the country.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Jäger & Sammler/Flickr.
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