THE forest department has said reports in a section of the media that tourists were blocking movement of tigers in Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) should be seen in the context of increased interest in wildlife.
Principal secretary (forest) Pravin Pardeshi said only 20 per cent of the reserve having six resident tigers was open to tourists.
The remaining park having 42 tigers is not available for tourism. So it is sweeping to say all tigers in TATR are exposed to tourists. The reports have raised the hackles of tiger lovers and conservationists,with rural development minister Jayant Patil,a nature lover,writing to forest minister Patangrao Kadam.
Asked if this meant the six tigers should suffer undue tourist pressure,Pardeshi said,Not at all. But the fact that the tigers merrily walk between crammed tourist vehicles suggets they are not bothered. These tigers have got used to humans.
Tourists crowding places of tiger sighting is a common phenomenon across reserves. In Pench (MP),Kanha and Bandhavgarh,elephants used to track down tigers and corner them for tourists to see. In Maharashtra,tourists can see a tiger only when it wants to be seen.
He said,TATR tourist revenue has gone up from Rs 48 lakh to an estimated Rs 3 crore over the last one year. This money is being used for conservation,habibat development and development of 79 villages in the buffer zone.
Pardeshi,however,averred over enthusiastic and unruly tourists were always there. But we have instructed guides not to stop at places of sighting for more than five minutes. We have shifted waterholes from the roadside to a little inside,so that wildlife could remain undisturbed, he said.