Evidence shows that more tourists = more tigers
This is an excerpt from a press release on the recent order, written by Julian Matthews, Chairman of Travel Operators for Tigers:
We are perplexed that the Supreme Court has chosen to disregard the clear evidence that proves that wildlife tourism within India Tiger Parks is not harming tigers. The highest densities of tigers can be found today in the most heavily visited Tiger Reserves including Corbett, Kaziranga and Bandhavgarh. The latest NTCA Tiger census published in March 2011, show that the tiger numbers went up in all these parks - at the same time as tourism numbers have increased significantly. At the same time, unseen and unloved sanctuaries and forest corridors lost all their tigers and wildlife to poaching, grazing, neglect, agriculture and extractive pressures.
Not only common sense but hard facts all support the argument that tourism places a spotlight on tigers and provides constant scrutiny of their health and welfare. Remove this spotlight and the door is left wide open to poachers, illegal loggers and other people who do not have the tiger's best interest at heart. Tourism in the parks needs better regulation as nobody benefits - neither wildlife nor tourist - from irresponsible driving and over exuberant guides. Banning it altogether though is the final nail in the coffin of the tiger.
Tiger tourism helps keep tigers alive. Banning it may have the opposite effect when those reliant on tourism for a living will target tigers in response to the ban.Photo copyright Paul Goldstein
Lose tourists and you lose tigers for good, this is lunacy
The news that India's Supreme Court has banned tourism in tiger parks has infuriated Paul Goldstein, Exodus guide, award-winning wildlife photographer, philanthropist and TV presenter.
The areas affected support thousands of livelihoods, the tigers literally being the meal ticket for guides, wardens, hotels, camps, lodges, schools etc. Goldstein, the man behind the hugely successful Worth More Alive campaign to save the Bengal Tiger, and who has personally raised over £100,000 to help protect this magnificent animal, is outraged by this latest news, branding it "lunacy".
Goldstein commented, "The whole reason of visiting these parks is to keep these marquee species alive, where the tourists have disappeared in parks like Sariska and Panna, so has the tiger, you just cannot argue with these stark facts but some people seem intent on doing just this. The presence of tourists is not only a critical source of income it is also an essential deterrent for poachers and without these extra sets of eyes the tigers will be even more vulnerable.
"If tourists are no longer able to visit these key places and are instead forced out into buffer zones where there is little wildlife to be seen they simply will not travel. Tigers are difficult enough to spot in the core areas. The knock on effect is devastating - the local towns and communities will lose their income and thousands of hardworking people will be forced to move, leaving the tigers open to attack.
Tourists are truly the only real ally of the tiger and the Indian government should be ashamed of even considering this absurd piece of legislation. Nowhere in the world can predators survive without tourism, tigers are no different except they are more vulnerable than any other cat. India is happy to brandish the tiger brand, but their government is about to be responsible for its demise. Trying to deflect criticism from their own incompetence in preserving this species against the ravages of Chinese traditional medicine, by concocting this bilge is an utter disgrace. Already I have had repeat clients wishing to cancel their safari next year so the rot has already started. An utter disgrace the like of which I have not seen in 29 years in tourism. If it is not rescinded on August the 22nd, the tiger will be wiped out and soon."