Sanctuary Cover Story: Wildlife Tourism

Posted by: Bittu Sahgal on

The Sanctuary Cover Story June 2011 explores whether and how we can negotiate a path by availing of the immense potential of tourism to educate, conserve and offer employment, YET avoid the minefield of misuse and abuse that afflicts many of our finest wildernesses. And in the process can we ensure that wild species and the people who live next to them become primary beneficiaries of tourism? Can wildlife tourism physically enhance the quality and quantum of habitat available to wild species? People have grappled with this issue for over a century, but few people put the issue in better perspective than Aldo Leopold, the famous American naturalist, who opined that, "The problem with wildlife management is not how we handle the deer - the real problem is one of human management."

Jairam Ramesh, who signed the wildlife tourism policy and put it on the Ministry of Environment's website on June 2, 2011 has reassured everyone saying in effect: "Relax... Its just a draft". The point is, why did we need to sit so often, as such huge tax-payers expense, to discuss things in such details, spend hours on minutiae, if suddenly, almost overnight, only bits and pieces of six months of deliberations are slapped together carelessly with scraps of unintelligible, unimplementable, never discussed by the Committee-set-up-for-the-purpose, ideas such as stop all tourism in most of India's national parks and sanctuaries? Quixotic. Once India's green hope, it looks like Jairam is going to leave behind a legacy of a fallen-between-two-stools-hero who wanted to do the right thing, but was tripped by forces beyond his ken.

Visit this page on the site to read the full cover story. It also has links to other relevant articles on the vital issue of wildlife tourism.