|INFORMATION ON TIGER RESERVES
Court is currently hearing a petition on banning tourism inside
core/critical tiger habitats in India. The case stems from the use of
the word “inviolate” in the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, as well
as certain guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority
So far, there is very little published empirical
evidence on the impact of daytime wildlife tourism on tiger
populations. While the growing number of visitors to India’s National
Parks and sanctuaries (many of which form core/critical tiger habitats
in tiger reserves) obviously impacts wildlife, what those impacts are
and how they should be addressed is open to debate.
effort to understand the subject better, WPSI has created a chart using
available data on various aspects of tiger reserves that have a bearing
on the subject. Practically all the information has been compiled from
published NTCA sources. The information in the last column on tourism
in core areas has been gathered through personal communication with
people in the field, since there is no published report that explicitly
sets out this information.
The data in
the attached chart is fairly raw but it can be used to draw some basic
conclusions. However, drawing conclusions by simply comparing tiger
densities and levels of tourism should be done with caution as both
these factors interact with, and influence each other, in various
complicated ways. Tourism obviously benefits wildlife by generating
support for wildlife conservation, providing livelihoods for local
people, and acting as a check on poaching and other violations. There
are many cases of violations and intruders being reported by tourists.
But there are also negative impacts, which include the use of natural
resources by the large number of visitors, waste from tourists, and
disturbance to wildlife by unregulated tourism.
What the data
does show is that with the exception of the Sundarbans (where tourism
is conducted in the large buffer area) all of India’s tiger reserves
that have good or even moderate tiger populations also have wildlife
tourism in their core area. Nine out of the 40 tiger reserves in India
(highlighted in yellow) have both ‘Good’ densities of tigers, and high
levels of tourism in their core areas. In most of these nine reserves,
wildlife tourism has been present for many years though the volume is
on an increasing trend. It is clear from the data that high tiger
densities and daytime tourist visitation are not mutually incompatible.
Wild tigers generally ignore the presence of visitors in vehicles and
they have been recorded mating, hunting and living out their lives seemingly unmindful of the presence of tourist vehicles.
from wildlife tourism, there are several other human influences in the
core areas of tiger reserves. Some core areas still have thousands of
people living inside them and many of these have low tiger densities.
There are also a number of other factors inside tiger reserves that
need to be addressed, including major highways, railway lines, grazing,
and the lakhs of pilgrims that visit religious shrines inside core
Given the fact that wildlife tourism
is an industry providing employment and other benefits and
opportunities to local people and that the available data does not
indicate an immediate threat to wildlife, an outright ban on tourism in
the core areas of tiger reserves does not appear to be in the best
interests of either wildlife or people. Effective and proper regulation
would be a better alternative. At least a proper, detailed study of the
subject would seem necessary before a ban is contemplated.
Information on Tiger Reserves (pdf)