New Delhi, Apr 28 (ANI): India is contemplating putting a stop to tiger tourism in the wake of heightened fears regarding the sustainability of the species in the present scenario.
Unlike the sprawling African Savannah parks, Indian wildlife reserves/sanctuaries/national parks are not conducive for such a high volume of visitors.
Dr Rajesh Gopal, the head of India's National Tiger Conservation Authority said: "We should not forget that tiger reserves are primarily for conserving the endangered tiger and tourism is just a secondary outcome."
The numbers of this magnificent predator have dwindled alarmingly.
According to government officials, the species has already disappeared or is in danger of becoming extinct in 16 reserves. A century ago, when tiger hunting was a favourite pastime of Raj-era dignitaries, there were an estimated 40,000 in India.
A count in February 2008 showed that India's tiger population had plummeted to 1,411 animals, down from 3,642 in 2002. The latest figure is disputed, however. Some experts say that there may be only 800 wild tigers in India today and that the species could be rendered extinct in five years.
The decline is largely due to poaching, but habitat damage caused by tourism has also reached critical levels, reports The Times.
the Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, said this month that unregulated tourism was as much a threat to tiger population as poaching.
He said that he would clamp down on "mushrooming luxury resorts around tiger reserves".
He singled out Corbett National Park - named after the British hunter-turned-conservationist Jim Corbett and a favourite destination with Western tourists - as a habitat that had degenerated because of tourism.
At least four tigers have died there in the past two months, according to reports. (ANI)