Thursday, 18 October 2012

Tiger Tiger!


A few months ago, a Supreme Court ruling declared all tourist activities within Indian tiger reserves illegal and with it put into question a very large number of jobs that depend directly on the tiger wildlife tourism.  The big cats have recovered from the brink of extinction a few decades ago to an endangered species today.  However, the ruling by the SC failed to make a case for banning wildlife tourism.  It is of course a fine point to argue, and I would not venture out to argue either side of the debate.  Nevertheless, this article in the New Indian Express, championing the need for wildlife tourism as a tool to fight poaching is quite convincing and worth the read.  The author, Navin M Raheja, argues that tourist often play the role of the whistle-blower, sighting a number of cases in the past where unnatural tiger deaths in the jungle where only investigated after much pressure from tourist who where witness to the incident.  I think the argument is a valid one, The tiger and the its habitats are natural resources of our country and it is fair to ensure that these are used in a way that benefits the local population by encouraging them to preserve that habitat and ensuring the mutual and reciprocal livelihood.  Mr Raheja, does make the point that wildlife tourism must be reserved for the serious nature lovers and not the Sunday picnickers.