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Tourist Ban in the MP Tiger Reserve

by Madhav Srinivasan 2 year, 5 months ago

Many Indian states draw a large number of tourists to their tiger reserves to achieve a huge impetus in the tourism sector. But alarming reports of a steady decline in the number of tigers has raised a question, should tourism in this sector be banned?


News has surfaced that tourists might be banned from visiting the tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh and other parts of the country, as efforts are being made to preserve the last few of this once dominant species.


Madhya Pradesh has some of the largest and most visited tiger reserves in the country. The state witnesses numerous tourists who visit its tiger reserves in the winter season. Apart from providing a huge impetus to tourism in the state, this has become a major issue of concern for the tigers residing in its wilderness.


The Key Issue

Prayatna, a Bhopal based NGO, has filed a “Special Leave Petition” to ban tourism in tiger reserves, raising concerns over the travel operators trespassing through the core areas that are prohibited for the public. This has triggered panic in the State Tourism Department and the travel operators association, as it could be a huge blow to them.


A move from the Supreme Court can also affect thousands of livelihoods that solely depend on tourism in and around the jungles. Analysts predict that, if this law comes into effect; it could encourage other activists to carry out similar approaches in other portions of the country.


However, this could come as a huge relief to the black striped wild yellow cats as their population is shrinking day by day since the last 100 years. The numbers of tigers were 40,000 in the early years of the last century compared to a meager 1706 now.


Reactions From Different Communities

The alarming decrease in the number of tigers recently has raised a huge concern among activists, ecologists and the government. However, TOTF (Tigers India Wildlife Association) and hoteliers who provide tourism packages have come out in major protest against this ban and have labeled it as “frivolous without any sound scientific evidence and highly irrational”. They say that nearly 20,000 to 30,000 people who earn their livelihoods due to this project will be jobless and would cut down the revenue earned by the hotels and the state tourism department.


The Other Side of the Argument

It is also a proven fact that tourism in these areas brings about vigil and helps in maintaining tight security in the area, preventing poachers and other miscreants from disrupting the wildlife. The hoteliers and travel package owners are usually the first ones to know about any such activities going on and inform the authorities. 


The Madhya Pradesh High Court’s principal bench had earlier rejected this PIL after which the NGO took it to the Supreme Court. Many officials also say that the consequences of implementing this law might be grave, as it would alienate the local community from the government.


The “Save the Tiger” project has kicked off in other states such as Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh as well.

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