India's Bengal Tiger.
www.flickr.com user RobRyb
In a move that's created a considerable stir, on Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued a temporary ban on all tourism activities in the core areas of tiger reserves in India. According to this news report, the ban will remain in place until the court gives its final verdict on National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) guidelines, submitted to it for approval.
The court is scheduled to examine the guidelines on August 22, 2012. As outlined in this news report, they propose that tourism in core zones of tiger reserves be phased out within five years. In addition, all tourist operations within 5 kilometers of any tiger reserve, sanctuary, or national park should pay a minimum of 10% of their turnover as a " local conservation fee".
At the moment, most national parks in India are closed until October for the monsoon season, so the impact of the temporary ban won't really be felt. However, if it goes ahead, the elimination of tourism in core areas will have a major impact. The most visited parks -- Corbett, Kanha, Periyar, Ranthambore and Bandhavgarh -- attract 150,000-200,000 visitors a year. Corbett has a tourist lodge right in its core Dhikala zone.
No tourism in core areas will mean the end of tiger safaris. Apart from the potential affect on businesses and tourism, people are also concerned about the affect it will have on security cover in the core areas. If security decreases due to there not being any tourists, it may open the way for poachers to access the park, thus further endangering the animals.
The question is, will putting a stop to tourism really help preserve tiger numbers?
Share your thoughts about whether it should be banned in this poll.