The Karnataka Forest Department has taken back the decision to offer safari rides in the buffer zone of Nagarahole Tiger Reserve. Spread over Mysuru and Kodagu districts, the reserve covers an area of 847.791 sq km.
The idea of coming up with a safari was mooted in March when the then director of the reserve, Mahesh Kumar, wrote to the chief conservator of forest, Vijaykumar Gogi, seeking permission to start the safari. While the permission was granted, there was a huge uproar over the move from wildlife experts and farmers in Kodagu who believed that if buffer zones would be opened up for safaris, then the wild animals would land inside villages and it would give rise to man-animal conflict.
The ticket counters for the safari were built in mid-May.
BN Niranjan Murthy, chief conservator of forests, Kodagu circle, said: “We have dropped the proposal to start the safari in the buffer zone. While the aim of the forest department was to promote eco-tourism, there was a huge criticism.”
Wildlife conservationist Joseph Hoover in July wrote to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai requesting him to drop the proposal.
“People had cautioned the government against the Buffer Zone safari, stressing that it would further escalate man-animal conflicts in Kodagu district. The buffer area was added to the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve to offset the pressure of tourism in the core habitat of the tiger reserve. Local people, including forest settlers, fear that elephants and tigers could be pushed into human habitation if the buffer zone safari begins. The location where the safari ticket counter was being constructed would have obstructed the movement of elephants and other wildlife species towards the water hole,” he said.