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Tiger Tourism Ban in Rajasthan Lifted, New Rules Imposed

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According to a recent article in The Independent, the Indian Supreme Court has reopened 40 tiger reserves which have been closed to tourism since July, impacting tens of thousands of Indian jobs that rely on tiger tourism. The parks are opening under a new set of guidelines:

[E]ach state government is responsible for the day-to-day running of its wildlife parks. However, as an overall ruling within the 17 “tiger states” (from Assam to Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala), “Critical Tiger Habitats” have been newly defined and tourists are allowed into just 20 per cent of each of those areas. The state governments have been given six months to draw up their new regulations for entry into the parks, narrowly defining everything from timings to registration of visitors and vehicles. The rulings will be ratified in April 2013.

Tour guides, drivers and other tourism workers have been widely awknowledged as playing a key role in previous monitoring of tiger populations, and despite the problems the ban caused, many operators admit that the new policies were needed. One guide was quoted:

It has forced the authorities to take a good look at what they’re actually doing about conservation, which they haven’t monitored well for years. Over recent years official conservation of the big cat has been stymied by the apathy of politicians and quite probably by the connivance of some forestry workers with poachers.

Industry players also admit that limiting tourism and making sure vehicles and groups abide by rules is critical in protecting the tigers and their ecosystems.

For more details, please read the entire article.

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