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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs