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Spot the predator

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Spectator interest Tourists on a tiger safari in Ranthambore. Photo: Aditya Singh

Tehelka writes:

The government strengthened its scheme for voluntary relocation of villages and issued directives to phase out tourism from core forests. While the relocation drive is achieving mixed results, nothing really has changed on the tourism front. Therefore, conservation activists moved court.

The debate outside the courtroom is raging. Protribal groups blasted the hypocrisy of shunting poor villagers out and entertaining rich tourists in the same place. The tourism lobby hit back at the absurdity of comparing the impact of safari tourists, who do not even set foot in the forest, to that of villagers who survive on forest water, land, firewood and even bush meat, and are potential allies of poachers.

Moreover, a whole set of restrictions in and around reserves allows few livelihood options and tourism is the mainstay of such pocket economies. But while mushrooming resorts block wildlife corridors, pump out groundwater and dump garbage indiscriminately, few locals benefit from such enterprises owned by outsiders.

There is the problem: one species crowding out all others. Wildlife tourism, as it is practiced today, is not sustainable.

The solution is clear to everyone: clear rules and good enforcement. However, the republic lacks both, and no Anna Hazare will change that.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

February 10, 2012 at 3:33 am

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