News / Asia

    Proposed Tourism Ban Renews Tiger Welfare Debate in India

    An Indian Royal Bengal Tiger yawns as he rests in the water-pond inside an enclosure at the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad, May 11, 2011 (file photo).
    An Indian Royal Bengal Tiger yawns as he rests in the water-pond inside an enclosure at the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad, May 11, 2011 (file photo).

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Kurt Achin

    India's Supreme Court is examining a proposed measure that could put a large number of tigers off limits to tourists in some of its forest reserves. Tourism advertisements all over India use images of the tiger, India's national animal, to attract visitors.

    Now, the Supreme Court is weighing a proposal to ban tiger tourism in areas of India's Madhya Pradesh state. Social activist Ajay Dubey managed to push the proposal all the way to the nation's highest court, saying the big cats need protection.

    "The tigers of India are being made to pay for the mindless tourism and their numbers are falling constantly," said Dubey.  "There are a lot of incidents where tourists went inside and there have been casualties. This kind of tourism is a curse for the existence of tigers."

    Dubey argues that tourists, riding jeeps to get the closest possible look they can, disturb the natural habits of the tigers. He also points to an incident earlier this year in Madhya Pradesh, when a tourist vehicle struck and killed a female tiger, resulting in the eventual death of the two cubs she was trying to protect.

    Madhya Pradesh has only six of India's 40 tiger reserves, but a disproportionately high number of the country's tigers live in them. Existing national tiger conservation guidelines declare so-called core areas of a reserve to be "inviolate." Until now, that has been interpreted mainly as a ban on construction and similar disruptive activities. Dubey's proposal would extend the interpretation to make tourism off limits.

    Anuradha Mutatkar is legal counsel for the Travel Operators for Tigers India Wildlife Association. She contends that the existing guidelines don't ban tourism, and nor should they.

    "It should be interpreted that there should be no development activity inside the national park, inside the core area," said Mutatkar.  "And we are not against tiger conservation because what we earn is from tiger conservation."

    Belinda Wright, a tiger protection activist, is afraid that this decision would set a bad precedent for tiger reserves nationwide.

    "To close the door on all tourism in tiger reserve core areas would be a disaster from many points of view, not the least of which for the tiger because I don't believe that without tourism the tigers can be protected and saved and secured for the future," said Wright.

    Many activists find common ground in the opinion that tiger tourism should be better managed in the country, but resist the notion of a tourism ban. Latika Nath Rana holds a doctorate in tiger conservation, and also runs a tiger tourist lodge in Madhya Pradesh. She says there is no scientific evidence to prove that tourism is harmful for the tigers.

    "I compared a tourism zone with a non-tourism zone and I was studying this for four years and the benefits of tourism were enormous," she noted.  "By the tourists going in for a few hours a day, they are actually becoming the eyes and ears of the public."

    Sonsai Baiga, a member of a tribe living near the reserves, performs traditional dances for tourists.  He says his dance troupe has entertained tiger-watching visitors for many years. He says this is how we earn they earn their livelihood.

    Opponents of a ban say it would erode various livelihood options in reserves, from drivers to tour guides.

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora