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1:01 am - Monday November 20, 2017

4 tiger reserves in MP contribute 75 crore to community, 19 crore to govt

Staff Reporter, Bhopal

A new study documents both financial and other key benefits that wildlife tourism brings to Madhya Pradesh’s tiger reserves and some of the communities living around them. A report, “The Value of Wildlife Tourism for Conservation and Communities” was launched by Dr Raghu Chundawat at an event in Delhi today.

The report records the results of a recent in depth study around four Tiger Reserves in Central India. In the four Tiger Reserves, the team found that the total revenue generated from wildlife tourism’s entry fees alone was Rs.19,42,00,000.

This was more than the State Government’s contribution of Rs.18,76,22,500 to these Reserves. Central Assistance budget was Rs.21,24,31,200 (The total budget for these four Reserves in 2016-17 was Rs.40,00,53,700) Dr Raghu Chundawat, the eminent tiger scientist who led the research team, points out that while successful, most Tiger Reserves in India are small and the tiger populations protected within their boundaries are not viable.

“Exclusionary models of conservation are no longer feasible over a larger landscape,” he says. He believes that to build on the success of the Protected Areas and take tiger conservation beyond their boundaries, we need to look at new, parallel and complementary models for saving and restoring forests.

“Our findings show that wildlife tourism can provide one way of doing this; with support and improved sustainable practices, tourism could provide a paradigm to spread benefit to tigers and people over a much broader area.”

“If nature tourism is seen as a conservation tool rather than a threat, it has the potential to bring sustainable and significant economic development to many remote areas.” Dr Chundawat adds: “many countries around the world have shown this and benefitted from increased biodiversity conservation.But it requires sympathetic government policies that promote and encourage sustainable wildlife tourism over a larger landscape.”

The report highlights that revenues generated by small business enterprises is eight times higher in villages with tourism infrastructure than in those without.As well as enhancing the local economy generally, the report highlights that in the tourism affected villages employment is significantly higher and health and education is greatly improved.

Furthermore the dependency of these communities on the forest is much reduced and their positive attitude to wildlife conservation much enhanced, a significant win-win for conservation efforts.

Julian Matthews, founder of the nature stewardship charity, TOFTigers, points out “the study has found that many of the criticisms leveled at the tourism community are not correct here when examined closely. For instance 80% of jobs are held by locals, 45% of all the direct revenue goes to the local economy and 90% of available accommodation caters to the budget, not luxury, traveler.”

“The researchers found zero evidence of forest cover loss either” he adds, “but there are certainly still key issues, including poor planning, lighting, noise and waste disposal, that need to be improved to enjoy the full potential of this sector to support tiger protection and forest conservation”he points out.

One of India’s leading wildlife academics. Dr R. S. Chundawat has held the post of Regional Science and Conservation Director for the International Snow Leopard Trust, was for ten years a member of the teaching faculty of India’s premier research and training institute, the Wildlife Institute of India and is very closely involved with tiger conservation.

He recently completed a ten-year study to determine the ecological requirement for tigers in a Dry Tropical Forest in Panna National Park in India. Widely recognised by the international conservation community, Raghu is the recipient of several awards including Esso’s ‘Honour for Tiger Conservation’ in 2001; the ‘Carl Zeiss Wildlife Conservation Award’ 2002 for excellence and the ‘Tiger Gold’ award in 2003 for outstanding scientific work with wild tigers.

In 2003 BBC/Animal Planet produced an award-winning wildlife documentary film on his work with the Tigers in Panna “Tigers of the Emerald Forest”. Today he resides on the borders of Panna Tiger reserve.

Posted in: Bhopal

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