India’s Supreme Court lifts ban on tiger tourism

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NEW DELHI, India – After Supreme Court lifted the ban on tourism in core areas, the three main tiger reserves in the state have started accepting tourists.

NEW DELHI, India – After Supreme Court lifted the ban on tourism in core areas, the three main tiger reserves in the state have started accepting tourists. While Pench Tiger Reserve opened on Thursday, Melghat is opening on Friday and Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the government has issued instructions to prepare a tourism plan based on guidelines notified by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) at the instance of SC. “Bookings have already started for Pench and Melghat. TATR booking opens on October 19,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) S W H Naqvi.

TATR is one of the busiest tiger tourism destinations in the country with over 1 lakh annual visitors. Pench has about 45,000 and Melghat about 30,000 visitors annually.

Principal Secretary (Forest) Pravin Pardeshi said, “We will ensure the tourism plan is ready within a month.”

He said NTCA had stipulated seven main points to base the plan on. No tourism facilities to come up in corridor areas. Eco-tourism to be allowed around forest ends by the side of agricultural or fallow lands. Current routes have to be freshly delineated if they are in excess of the 20 per cent of the core area that court has allowed for tourism. Villages with eco-development committees have to be identified for creating or augmenting existing homestay facilities.