The Supreme Court of India has placed a temporary ban on tiger tourism, closing India‘s tiger parks indefinitely as they look into a claim that ecotourism is having a negative impact on the habitat of this endangered species.
The government has been trying to create positive changes in the industry for months now, taking the welfare of these animals very seriously. In fact, six states that did not comply with the count’s April mandate to identify core and buffer zones of their tiger reserves were fined 10,000 rupees (about $178).
According to the World Wildlife Fund, India is home to 1,706 tigers – the world’s largest population. However, the number of tigers has decreased from more than 100,000 in the beginning of the 20th century, due to poaching and habitat encroachment.
So, why is this happening? Toby Sinclair, vice president for the Ecotourism Society of India, told CNN he believes the government is allowing too many visitors into the parks.
“The eco in ecotourism has changed to economy,” he says.
Shashanka Nanda of New Delhi, a wildlife enthusiast and photographer, also has an opinion. He believes that, while the court’s heart is in the right place, its not going about the situation the right way.
“Responsible and regulated tourism forges a human connection to wildlife. Just seeing tigers in textbooks won’t affect people to change,” he said. “If you stop tourists and enthusiasts, you’re losing half the battle of wildlife conservation.”
Worried about the future of tiger tourism? The court’s final ruling will be decided on August 22 of this month.
[Flickr photo via Keith Roper]