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INFORMATION ON TIGER RESERVES

 


Introduction

The Supreme 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 (NTCA).

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.

In an 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.

WPSI Analysis

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.

Apart 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 areas.

Conclusion

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.


WPSI
October 2011


Information on Tiger Reserves (pdf)

 

 

 

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 Poaching &             
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___________________
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TIGER DEATHS IN 2013
 Mortality                  38
 Poaching &              42
 Seizures                   
___________________
       Total                    80


TIGER POACHING 1994-2013

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 Poaching &             59
 Seizures             
___________________
       Total                  173
     

LEOPARD DEATHS IN 2013
 Mortality               217
 Poaching &           110
 Seizures             
___________________
       Total                 327


LEOPARD POACHING 1994-2013


TIGER RESERVES
Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve Map 

Bandhavgarh


 
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