Striking a Balance: The New Generation of Tiger Tourism in India
In rural central India, thousands of domestic and foreign tourists flock to see wild Bengal tigers each year. An international debate about whether tourism is good or bad for tigers was heard by India’s Supreme Court in 2012. After new guidelines were implemented, tiger reserves across the country had to review and manage their tourism policies. Set 550 miles east of the city of Mumbai, the Tadoba-Andhari tiger reserve is on the cusp of ‘tiger tourism’. The reserve’s eco-tourism policy was recently extended by using it as precedence for other protected areas in the state of Maharashtra. A cap on vehicle numbers, limited tourism infrastructure and a conservation-oriented park management are some of the reserve’s strengths but authorities need to tread carefully and avoid mistakes made by India’s older tiger reserves. Frequent tiger sightings are driving tourism up, subsequently increasing consumer-oriented demands of tourists looking to find luxury amidst wilderness. Co-existing adjacent to this hobnob of tourists and tigers, is a village of 1200 people, most of whom are employed within the tourism sector directly or indirectly. Despite the increase in tourism revenue, this village – Moharli, has a long way to go before it can make substantial progress. Tourism has flourished in other tiger reserves at the cost of the locals’ livelihood and the ecosystem’s health. This project looks at what it would take for the Tadoba-Andhari tiger reserve to avoid being enlisted with those reserves and carve a niche for itself as a sustainable tourism destination.
© Copyright 2013 Apoorva Prasanna Joshi