GIVE THEM THEIR SPACE
A recent Report warned the world that “wildlife watching”, fast turning into a multi billion dollar industry” could “adversely affect the animal behavior and damage the habitants if not controlled properly”. A major recommendation was “Careful planning by responsible local and national authorities”. It began with all the tourists clambering into a horrendously bright blue Volvo and clattering into their seats. Last to enter was raucous family of six who ensured that noise level rose agonizingly every time the forest guard who accompanied us pointed out the occasional shy chital herds or peacock. The unfortunate truth is that not many tourists who pay are educated about the privilege of being in the wildlife sanctuary. “Dos and Don’ts” get unnoticed. “Even when we tell them what to do, many don’t listen”, says the forest official.
Nature writer and wildlife enthusiast S.Baskaran feels “The fact that tourism is only incidental has to be clarified first. Wildlife should not become a recreational activity. Animals and birds do not exist for the sake of humans.
Sanctuaries are marked out to protect animals and birds. Already we have very little protected area in India, around four percent. Each sanctuary has a carrying capacity for tourists.Not more than that number should be allowed inside on any single day. Sadly, with the prevailing utter lack of coordination between government departments, you have the tourism,revenue,highways and forest department all pulling in different directions. An anguished shekar Dattari,wildlife filmmaker, says, “Most Indian tourists, whether of the ‘educated’ class or otherwise, behave appalingly in wildlife areas. For them a wildlife sanctuary is the same as an open zoo or a ‘safari park’. There is no sense of sanctity whatsoever. Shouting, screaming,incessantly chatting and littering as they go along are very common.
The concept of real eco tourism, he feels “has not been understood in India, either by the majority in the tourism sector or by the government agencies. Here any tourism sector or by the government agencies. Her any tourism in a natural landscape is automatically, and mindlessly, classified as eco-tourism.first and foremost , guides must be trained rigorously and help responsible for any misbehaviour on the part of their group. The UN recommends the promotion of the environmentally, economically and socially sound wildlife watching – zoning schemes, special management areas, fee programmes and visitors schemes. Tourists need to respect basic rules. These include: no physical contact with animals, safety distances and no visits if you are ill, removal of litter and restricted use of flash photography.