Saturday, July 27, 2013
Thursday, November 15, 2012
While this news has come as a respite for the entire tourism industry, it is now the time to introspect and look at wildlife tourism as a responsible and sustainable activity. The guidelines specify the following principles while implemention: - Adopt low-imapct tourism which protects the integrity of forest and wildlife areas
- Engage with and ensure participation and consent Gram Sabhas and Panchayats to facilitate decision-making
- Develop mechnisms to generate revenues from wildlife tourism for the welfare and economic upliftment of local communities
- Highlight the biodiversity richness and their ecological services to people
- Highlight the heritage value of tiger reserves
- Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect
- Provide livelihood opportunities to local communities
- Promote sustainable use of indigenous materials for tourism activities
- Promote processes for forest dwellers to control and maintain their resources, culture and rights
Involvement of local communities is a key aspect of these ecotourism guidelines. While this is a welcome step and realisation, it needs to be seen how and what further steps are taken to achieve this prime objective. One important decision taken is to develop a system to ensure that the gate recepits from tiger reserves should remain with the local authorities and these are to be used for conservation work, local livelihood development, tackling human-wildlife conflict and welfare omeasures of field staff.
The State Governments will charge a 'conservation fee' between Rs.500 to Rs.3000 per room per month from the resorts around the tiger reserves. Again an idealistic approach that may not go down well with the tourism industry as the fee range given seems to be quite steep and will ultimately be passed on to the guests and in turn may affect the bookings thus resulting in the drop in revenue of gate receipts. This needs a rethink. An alternative may be to ensure that all resorts have a minimum ecological footprint on the area i.e they become more energy-effiecient, harvest rainwater for use in toilets and swimming pools, etc.
The State Government will constitute a Local Advisory Committee for each tiger reserve that will review the tourism strategy with respect to the tiger reserve, snsure site specific norms on infrastructure, monitor all tourist facilities in and around tiger reserves vis-a-vis environmental clearances, etc.
Hope the State Governments set up these committees soon as chaos and confusion was seen in some repouted tiger reserves since the beginning of this tourist season. The number of safari vehicles entering the tiger reserves were reduced abruptly without consulting the stakeholders. This defeats the very purpose of these ecotourism guidelines. As a result, the local people involved in and dependent on tourism protested. Thereafter, the vehicle numbers were increased and then again decreased. Such haphazard decision-making needs to be phased out before anything else. Let the process be transparent as has been emphasised in the guidelines.
The Corbett Foundation, with its experience in the field and excellent rapport with the local communities, is willing to work with the forest department on the issue of wildlife tourism.
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
- All resorts must take care of at least 40% of their energy requirements through non-renewable sources like solar energy and biomass-based energy.
- Harvesting of rainwater and ground water recharge should be made compulsory with restrictions on drawing of ground water for use in resorts.
- Strictly no form of loud music should be allowed in the resorts, except in sound-proof rooms.
- Composting of kitchen and organic waste should be compulsory for every resort. Inorganic and non-biodegradable waste to be disposed off at least 5 km away from the buffer zone of the tiger reserve. A system should be developed for collection and dumping of this waste with the involvement of local gram panchayats or municipalities at an identified location that could be an old abandoned quarry or any other wasteland.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Is awareness the answer?
by Zaara Kidwai, Programme Officer (Awareness), TCF Corbett
Friday, May 18, 2012
The Corbett Foundation strongly condemns this incidence and demands an urgent probe and strictest punishment to the guilty.
* picture courtesy: The Satpuda Foundation
Friday, March 2, 2012
Knowing the Government of India’s penchant for ‘development’ and the Environment Ministry’s ‘efficiency’ to clear several industrial projects in some of the pristine Protected Areas of India, this news didn’t really shock me. With the country’s forests and wildlife already fragmented into small pockets, the decision to divert additional 25% forest area for developmental projects is certainly going to make matters worse. When the National Tiger Conservation Authority is pushing to control wildlife tourism to make tiger habitats inviolate, what justification does the Government of India have in giving away already scarce forest land that could well be a tiger habitat, an important wildlife corridor or a catchment for rivers? Once and for all, the MoEF must come out with a comprehensive policy clearly mentioning the existing ‘no-go’ areas and placing a moratorium on any further development in these areas, however important it may seem to be.
It is my fervent wish that the corporate sector should act more responsibly in future and avoid infrastructure projects in the ‘no-go’ areas. After all, infrastructure could be located elsewhere but species lost and ecosystems destroyed cannot be recreated.
Chairman, The Corbett Foundation
Sunday, February 5, 2012
The semi arid grasslands of Kutch in Gujarat are one of the few abodes of the critically endangered Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps), also known as the Great Indian Bustard. Though Kutch has been known for its second highest breeding population for this species, severe pressures of habitat loss due to unplanned industrialisation and agricultural encroachment over the past few years has resulted with a drastic decline in the population of this majestic bird. The population estimates reveal an estimated population of less than 30 birds in Kutch out of the total 300 birds surviving in the wild today. The Indian Bustard shares its habitat with other species of the bustard family – MacQueen’s Bustard (Chlamydotis macqueeni) and Lesser Florican (Spheotides indica), both vulnerable and endangered respectively as per the IUCN Red List.
All these 30-odd Indian Bustards survive in the Abdasa taluka of Kutch district. India has declared 13 sanctuaries for the protection of this bird. One of these, the Kutch Bustard Sanctuary spread over a mere 2 sq km, is located near Lala village near Naliya in Abdasa taluka. However, a major breeding population of Indian Bustards thrives outside the protected area, in Abdasa taluka. The areas outside this notified Protected Area serve as the breeding, display and wintering areas of these birds. Apart from the reasons of habitat loss as mentioned above, constant threat from uncontrolled cattle grazing over its potential habitat and occasional hunting by trigger-happy people is taking these birds closer to extinction. The Indian Bustard is included in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of India.
It is extremely essential to stop and remove the encroachment from the important areas for GIB. Industrial projects cannot be sanctioned on the land used by Indian Bustards. The Corbett Foundation appeals to the State Government of Gujarat and the Ministry of Environment of Forests, Government of India to take immediate action to protect the Indian Bustard habitat and save this species from extinction in Gujarat. All local and national NGOs, bird-watchers, naturalists, conservationists, scientists and the people of India and the world must come together and in unison make the plea to save Indian Bustards. This might be LAST call to save this magnificent species from Gujarat.
Please sign this online petition and pledge your support to the cause