Government warns of inevitable extinction if tiger tourism continues
One of India’s biggest tourist attractions is being shielded by the Indian government as tourists threaten to reduce the already lingering number of wild Bengal tigers in the country. The endangered animals now number only 1,411 in their natural habitats and are in danger of becoming extinct within five years if tourists continue to arrive in the country’s 37 tiger reserves. Tourism will be phased out across the country gradually, the head of India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority Rajesh Gopal has stated that “We should not forget that tiger reserves are primarily for conserving the endangered tiger and tourism is just a secondary outcome” adding that “Our reserves are small and prone to disturbance caused by tourism. They cannot compete with large African savannah parks, which can stand large number of tourists.” Local residents who live in the core tiger habitats will also be relocated in a bid to save these endangered animals,
In many of the reserves across the country the tigers have already disappeared or are on the verge of extinction, although the Indian government has blamed poaching for many of the deaths it is impossible to rule out the affects of tourism on the disappearance of one of the world’s best loved animals. The tourist vehicles used in tiger trails often drive away prey hunted by a tiger, the many hotels built across reserves have also stopped the animals from moving from one territory to another.
India is hoping that by phasing out the amount of ‘tiger tourism’ that the area attracts, the Bengal tiger can then be pulled back from the brink. Although many people do wish to arrive and observe the animals, simply driving through a reserve causes harm to the ecosystem.
Authot: Mary Stevens