This is a quick response to the ire of those who say i am 'anti-tourism' and the 'hate mails' i get as author of the report on 'Impact of tourism on tigers & other wildlife in Corbett', I would like to point out that tourism infrastructure ie.a mad mushrooming of resorts is destroying vital tiger corridors which are critical to their survival, not just in Corbett but also in Mudumalai, Kanha, Kaziranga, Bandhavgarh. Another issue: It has been scientifically established that tigers need inviolate habitats to survive, so there is a major effort to rehabilitate villagers living inside core critical tiger habitats. It isn't an easy task, made all the more difficult when locals perceive that they are being moved out, but the 'rich' aka tourists move in.
As for tourism saving tigers, in an ideal world yes, it can play a tremendous role in garnering support for the tiger, but in its current form it is intrusive and counter-productive, and must be regulated. Tourism has to have a broader base, not madly centred on the tiger. Is converging of 30/40 noisy cars & equally noisy and hysterical occupants on a tiger indicate a respect for the animal? Where is the wilderness you have come to seek, or have i missed the point somewhere? Is paying Rs 10,000 & above for a guaranteed tiger sighting a way to show your 'love' for the tiger?
How many of you have questioned resorts (and yes, i know there are a (very) few good people out there-thanks)..where does the firewood come from? why is the trash dumped in the river? Why such huge generators belching away diesel and noise by the tiger's forest?
Yes, tourists do keep a vigilant third eye, but that has a limited, if important role. Try looking at the forest guards who work in the worst of conditions--before you hog the credit. There must be a balance somewhere.
The huge influx of tourists could not save the tiger in Sariska...and yes, surprise, surprise, tigers have survived non-tourism areas too. In the non-tourism areas of Corbett, or the core of Simlipal where no tourist will venture.
Not that the forest department is doing its utmost, there are many flaws, which i, and many others, have highlighted again and again.
It hurts me to say this, but sadly, for most (there are always exceptions--and thanks God for them) the tiger has become a cash cow. And we are milking it dry.
Think about it..