Their is a good news to share with all the readers. Recently Forest Department of Madhya Pradesh introduced a new quota of tickets for core zones of all popular national parks like Kanha National Park, Bandhavgarh, Panna National Park, Satpura National Park etc. They count of tickets added to each tiger reserve varies and the most benefited ones are those tiger reserves which are facing tourism pressure i.e. Kanha & Bandhavgarh. Exact official figures are not available to not able to share at present. But this is a welcome step by Forest Department for promotion of tourism, local job generation and spreading message of wildlife conservation to rest of the world.
In past when it was decided to reduce the number of tourists entry in tiger reserves, it was widely criticized and local villagers whose livelihood was directly connected with tourism, found it as injustice with them when they have done nothing wrong or illegal. That decision derailed the whole wildlife tourism industry and whose side effects become widely visible in coming years when group tourism & inbound tourism declined in a drastic way. It encouraged high level of safari tickets black-marketing, selling safari tickets at over-priced cost, large number of hotels wind up their business from forest areas, large number of local villagers lost their jobs. All this done in name of wildlife conservation but nobody tried to study to check if any change really happened due to decrease in tourism activity in these jungles. Has it contributed in steep growth in wildlife population, resulted into better conservation? Has it contributed in decline in poaching incidences? If we study the fact and figures of past 100 years, we will notice that majority of wildlife loss happened before year 1971. Large number of forest was lost, poaching was carried out at very high level in an relentless way and in that period, tourism was negligible in that period. Actual conservation begun after introduction of Project Tiger and Wildlife tourism started growing in late 90’s. I think considering these facts, we should conclude that Tourism contributes to wildlife conservation and thus they can’t be declared as danger to wildlife. We can’t justify such sanctions by giving logic that “Every poacher is a human being”. We should say that “Every human being is not a poacher”.
In order to understand the effect of such additional safari quota, we should wait for next one year as this will have cascading effect which is need to be studied and felt with the with the passage of time. This will definitely result into more tourists arrival and generate a sense of confidence among tourists that authorities are sympathetic towards them they will have better chance to enjoy jungle safari drives in core zone of forest. This will also result in to some sort of relief from safari tickets black marketing in which luxury hoteliers snatching away the opportunities from normal tourists to enjoy the safari drives. They are those luxury resort who publicly claim themselves are leader in wildlife conservation, working for local society, following eco friendly practices but at the same time they are deeply indulged in mal practice of blocking safari tickets in name of their local staff and sell them at high cost for profit booking. Their was mute permission also from local authorities who mutely supported them by offering widely known loop-holes in their ticket booking system to make it easy for them to act. This will encourage confidence among those Foreigner travel agencies who shifted their business from India to other countries.