India’s tourism may suffer serious setbacks after the Supreme Court banned tourists on its tiger reserves last Tuesday.
Reports say that a local environmentalist accused that the parks entertain too many tourists whose cat fetishes cause harm to the ecosystem and breeding ground of endangered species. Habitat encroachment and poaching are to blame in the decrease of the feline clan in the 20th century.
Commercial establishments built for tourists were also said to affect the wildlife community and were demanded to be banished. Ajay Dube, a conservationist and wildlife activist, proposed that human disturbances including tourism should not be allowed for the tigers’ safety.
India holds 1,706 tigers, the largest population in the world, according to World Wildlife Fund. While National Tiger Conservation Authority of India records that there are 40 tiger reserves across the country.
Tourists may have second thoughts on pursuing their Indian trips as tiger parks will be closed indefinitely until the court announces its final ruling on August 22.
Shashanka Nanda, Wildlife enthusiast and photographer based in New Delhi, criticizes the government’s approach on dealing with the issue. “Responsible and regulated tourism forges a human connection to wildlife. Just seeing tigers in textbooks won’t affect people to change, if you stop tourists and enthusiasts, you’re losing half the battle of wildlife conservation,” he said.
Six states who did not comply with the court’s decision were forced to pay 10,000 rupees ($178) as fine for the offense.