There’s a move to stop tiger tourism in India in the wake of concerns that the big cats are facing threats from tourists.
Soon, the core regions of 37 tiger reserves in the country will see no human footfalls and people living in these areas will be rehabilitated. Official figures suggest that the species has already disappeared or is endangered in 16 reserves largely due to poaching, and also due to habitat damage caused by tourism. Perched on top of elephants or vehicles, tourists end up destroying grasslands. Their abodes — cottages and hotels — are bad news for the tiger’s habitat.
A wild tiger at the Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh. M. K. S. Pasha.
The erosion is evident. A visit to most tiger reserves in this country leaves you with a wallet full of visiting cards of tourist guides, elephant-back tour organisers, so-called bird and wildlife guides, nature walkers and the likes. They have their ways to get you inside the core area. Through anxious days and nights, you are promised the prized sighting but you have to be content with sundry other wildlife. The tiger is for the lucky few, you are made to believe in the end, and asked to contact the very same people for the ‘lucky sighting’ the next time around.
The move to stop tiger tourism in the core areas is a welcome one. In any case, there are very few big cats left to be preserved in the core areas. And only the lucky get to see them, anyway.