No tourist entry inside core tiger territory
TNN, Aug 15, 2010, 04.18am IST
LUCKNOW: Tourism will have to be kept out from tiger havens. The National Tiger Conservation Authority's (NTCA) latest instructions to field directors of tiger reserves could be a reaction to what MP government had ordered recently -- opening tiger reserves, sanctuaries and all parks to tourism to the extent that tourists do not have access to the forest guard posts deep inside a tiger area.
The letter issued by Rajesh Gopal, member secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), on Thursday, reads: "Patrolling camps/chowkis/watch towers inside a tiger reserve (core as well as buffer) should not be used for accommodating tourists or facilitating tourism. As these structures have been constructed under Project Tiger, for the sole purpose of accommodating the frontline field staff (at places with wireless), it needs to be ensured that they are solely used for patrolling/anti-poaching work."
The letter has reached officials at Dudhwa. "Tourism inside core area or any such part of reserve where tiger population is based cannot be allowed," said an official. The humans and external influence will disturb tigers which are known to be "reclusive". Even if a tiger population is thriving in certain pockets of a buffer area, it should be sealed against human interference. Besides, human interference in core area can also jeopardise safety of humans entering it, leave alone disturbance to the big cats.
NTCA highlights the concern. "Tourists allowed to patrol in critical tiger habitat areas will not only disturb tigers but also jeopardise safety of tourists. Besides, exposing tourists to sensitive patrolling routes/paths/spatial presence of animals and patrolling strategy will make habitat vulnerable by exposing such details which may be confidential for apprehending poachers," states the letter. It might, however, be difficult to check that no poacher disguised as a tourist enters the core area.
The tourism zone within a tiger reserve is demarcated in the management plan. Any change in it can be made only by permission of chief wildlife warden of the state. Also, since reserves get their funding from the Central government, the Centre will have an over-riding effect. Dudhwa reserve has about 110 sq km area identified as tourist zone. The new management plan is getting ready for the next 10 years. To keep up with the increase in flow of tourists, some new tourist spots might be identified. Though officials said it was too early to confirm that.
In keeping with NTCA's reiteration that provisions under section 38V of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, should be implemented for ensuring inviolate status of critical tiger habitat, UP has done its bid. On June 9 this year, government issued a notification on the same. Total 1093.79 sq km area, including 490.29 sq km of Dudhwa national park, 203.41 sq km of Kishenpur wildlife sanctuary and 400.09 sq km of Katarniaghat wildlife sanctuary, have been notified as critical tiger habitat of Dudhwa. It will be kept inviolate for conservation of tigers without affecting the rights of STs and such other forest dwellers.