The Times of India reported yesterday that the Indian Supreme Court has banned tourism in several tiger reserves. The ruling is meant to push several states into enforcing the establishment of buffer zones around the tiger reserves. Establishing the zones has been controversial because they would displace people and businesses. However, you can’t have tiger tourism without tigers and the zones are meant to reduce the threat of human encroachment on their reserves. The Times has rightfully emphasized that a balance is needed and that tourism revenue generated by tiger tourism should be used for increased conservation efforts.
This debate has implications beyond India and really underscores the need for sustainability achieved through careful planning and management. The latter is really only sustainable when developed in close cooperation with communities and stakeholders in and around protected areas.
The Times of India cited Rwanda as a success story in this regard, particularly with the protection of gorillas in Virunga. We are helping a project in Nyungwe National Park in the southern part of Rwanda, which is focused on using tourism as a means of generating increased revenue for conservation efforts, as well as for local communities around the Park.
For more from the Times of India reporting, check out the following links: