Changing Planet

Video: Tigers Draw Tourists and Support for India’s Parks

Tigers are symbols of power and beauty, the “King of the Cats”. Everyone wants to see one in the wild. But are hordes of visitors hoping for the thrill of getting up close to the lord of the jungle good or bad for India’s wildlife sanctuaries?

“Where there are tigers, there are tourists,” comments Sarath Champati, a naturalist and tourist consultant, in this video about tiger tourism in India. “The bad part is the intense pressure tigers in some of the reserves have come under…too many people, too many vehicles, a kind of unregulated tourism,” he says of scenes of open vehicles filled with excited visitors jostling to get up close to the big felines.

“Tourism is a huge powerful force that allows anyone on the street to connect to wildlife, particularly animals like tigers and elephants,” says Krithi Karanth, associate conservation biologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. “What’s happened now with tourists is that there are rules in place, but particularly regulating how tourists behave, what they wear, how they take their pictures, I see huge variations, depending basically on the guide and the naturalist sitting with them.”

Guides Monitor Tourist Behavior

“If you have a very good guide and naturalist the tourists are very well behaved. So it’s not specific to a particular park. It is very much individual-based, so that’s a huge challenge that we have,” Karanth says.

Tighter restrictions on tourism in tiger reserves include limits on how much of a park can be accessed by tourists, how close tourists may approach the cats, and how long a vehicle may linger at a tiger sighting.

Regulating how many people may enter tiger sanctuaries and how long they may remain will go a long way to ensuring that people get to see wild tigers, but not to the point where the animals are harassed, explains Karanth.

India’s parks can generate millions of dollars in tourism revenue per year, which can in turn go toward protecting the wildlife. Tigers can be the big magnets to draw people into the parks, and that in turn can ensure that visitors become more appreciative of the parks as a whole and conservation in general. “The tiger can be the ambassador for the entire Indian wildlife,” Sarath Champati notes.

12418031_10153900711084116_8462971761216697621_nDavid Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.

He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.

Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship

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Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn
  • Gopinath Kumsi

    This is toooo much number of vehicles must cut down imd

  • biash ghoash

    , too many vehicles,&shameless tourism

  • Dipanjan Mitra

    In my opinion, some Tiger Reserves in India are under stress because of the increasing population of “wildlife photographers”, lack of common sense and discipline on the part of the tourists which we otherwise show in our personal and official life but when it comes to nature we are really callous and the horrible excitement upon a tiger sighting. I remember an instance a few years ago in a national park (very famous now) in M.P., there were around 20 plus vehicles lined up in anticipation of seeing a tiger which was resting in a bush just around 12 feet from the road and one of the vehicles did not wish to wait and wanted to pass along. There was an Indian couple in it and the husband actually got impatient for not being able to pass and got down from the vehicle shouting at the top of his voice. He was later reported at the gate by the guide of his vehicle and from the next day he could not enter the park. The problem is money. People have money and they think they can go and just do anything anywhere. And as Karanath has mentioned good guys can really make the difference.

  • Mahesh

    Which National Park is this video shot at?

  • luis

    Every tiger np in india must be it is a great bussines, noise cars, too much people…if yu have seen a tiger you was lucky, so why will go to np?
    Stop this circus !!!@ Leave tiger in his enviroment!

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