News / Asia

    Indian Supreme Court Lifts Ban on Tiger Tourism

    A tiger looks on in the jungles of Banergatta Biological Park, about 25 kilometers (16 miles) south of Bangalore, India (2006 file photo).
    A tiger looks on in the jungles of Banergatta Biological Park, about 25 kilometers (16 miles) south of Bangalore, India (2006 file photo).
    Anjana Pasricha
    In India, the supreme court has lifted a controversial ban on tiger tourism in the country’s national parks. Conservationists have welcomed the move, saying that tourists posed no threat to the big cat.   

    Economic impact

    Until a few days ago, Amit Sankhla, was wondering if he would have to shut down the tourist lodges he operates in two sprawling tiger reserves in central Madhya Pradesh state.  His worries followed a supreme court order in July which banned tourists from the country’s 41 tiger reserves. 

    But Sankhla finally has reason to cheer. On Tuesday, the top court reversed its order and ruled that visitors could again enter the tiger reserves. Although much business has been lost, he hopes tourists will flock back. 

    "Many groups that were coming from UK, from America, from Canada, different places around the world, have canceled," he said. "It will not be until January that we will see bookings coming back to us.”

    Ban reversal

    The ban on India’s thriving tiger tourism was imposed following a petition by a campaigner who said that tourism should not be allowed in "core" areas or inner parts of the park where tigers breed and hunt. He cited dwindling numbers of the big cat in India.

    But the court ban on tiger tourism led to an outcry from prominent conservationists.

    India is home to about 1,700 tigers, or nearly half the world’s tiger population.

    Poachers are worse ennemies

    Belinda Wright, who heads the Wildlife Society of India in New Delhi, says the enemies of the tigers are not tourists but poachers.

    "Our huge concern was that if tiger reserves would be left virtually empty, poaching gangs would move in," said Wright. "Tigers, and in fact many animals, as people must have see in Africa as well, get very used to the presence of tourist vehicles and visitors. And, tigers are blasé. They will walk up to a car, sniff the wheel, stand there waiting for a car to cross the road and so on. They pretty much ignore the presence of tourists." 

    Thousands of tigers have been lost to poachers - the government says 24 tigers have been killed by hunters this year. Poachers smuggle the tiger parts to countries like China, where they are in big demand.

    Tourism boosts convervation

    Several wildlife preservationists argue that tourism actually helps the cause of conservation by boosting the economy of villages and giving local populations a stake in the survival of the tiger.

    They include people like Sankhla, who say that wildlife tourism employs tens of thousands of people across the country.

    "Habitat was very important, that the people around it, the villages around it prosper rather than resorting to things like poaching. The employment level that are there, direct or indirect, within the areas wherever the national parks are, is extremely high," said Sankhla.

    However, conservationists say state governments need to regulate tourism and take steps  to protect the buffer zones around the tiger reserves.  

    Following the latest controversy, the National Tiger Conservation Authority has announced new guidelines to protect the tiger. Under the new rules, no new tourism infrastructure will be created in what is called the inner area of the park. State governments will have six months to present plans or complying with national guidelines on protecting the tiger.

    You May Like

    S. African Farmer Goes From 'Voice in the Wilderness' to Sought-After Expert

    Margarest Roberts has authored more than 40 books on subjects like organic farming, urban agriculture, herbs and ‘superfoods'

    Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

    U.S. men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than her looks

    Multimedia Lebanese Clown Troupe Marks Valentine's Day Amid Stink

    Activists resort to unusual approaches to raise public awareness of country’s ongoing trash crisis

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.