The Jim Corbett National Park here on Tuesday opened its gates to wildlife enthusiasts for a landmark season,having turned 75. To mark the platinum jubilee,a function was organised at the parks Aam Danda gate,where Uttarakhand Chief Minister B C Khanduri inaugurated a newly introduced online reservation system for visitors.
Visitors looking to book passes for entry to the park can now log in to corbettonline.uk.gov.in to make their reservations. The park will now remain open to visitors till June 15 next year.
Khanduri spoke of the challenges that Uttarakhand faced in balancing growing development needs of the states population with environmental conservation. Even a small initiative takes years to be approved by the Centre. As population increases,conflict with nature will increase. I appeal to those responsible for protecting wildlife to work alongside ordinary people, he said.
Top wildlife and environment officials of the state,including state Principal Chief Conservator of Forests R B S Rawat and Chief Wildlife Warden S S Sharma were present at the occasion.
The resorts in the area are important to the park but I request them to keep ecosensitivity of the area in mind, Rawat said,echoing conservationists concerns on the recent spate in development of tourism-related infrastructure in the fringes of the park.
While Corbett has succeeded in recent times in making the surrounding community active stakeholders in its activities,there was a need to frame central-level policies on tourism to solve problems related to sustainable tourism that is currently faced by parks all over India,including Corbett,said Rajeev Bhartari,Chief Conservator of Forest (Eco Tourism).
Overall investment into conservation must increase. Even one flank of a mall gets more investment than Corbett, said Bhartari,a former director of the Corbett national park.
Chief Wildlife Warden S S Sharma said man-animal conflict was set to increase as population of the state grows due to factors including migration. Were addressing these issues through extensive patrolling and involvement of the local community in conservation, he said.
The function also attracted many long-time friends of Corbett,especially wildlife photography enthusiasts. Mohammad Aslam,a businessman from New Delhi well-known for his photographs of Corbetts tigers,said,I have been coming here every year for 30 years. I have spotted a tiger on all of my visits here. He visits the park at least thrice every season. He said in his experience,Khinnauli is the best place to spot tigers within the park.