16 October 2012

Today’s Supreme Court judgement is good news, with the present ban being lifted on wildlife tourism that was imposed in July.

“The ban has ensured the airing of a range of opinions that this highly contentious topic, produced some Ecotourism guidelines to stop poor tourism, but has also badly affected hundreds of thousands of local livelihoods, and legitimate businesses, both directly or indirectly. It’s now time to get back to work, to ensure that revenues that flow through park fees back into conservation and communities start flowing again, that livelihoods are restored, and legitimate businesses are allowed to continue to show India’s very best natural heritage to its citizens.” says TOFT India Director Vishal Singh.

For a decade TOFT has been calling for better and more visionary guidelines for nature tourism, that take into account evidence based science, park geography, ground reality, carry capacity and community and management issues, and drawing on the best of practices and experiences from around the world. Only time will tell whether this ban and its new prescriptive guidelines will help solve the issues created by the boom in nature tourism within India best known parks.

“My real concern now is for forests, infact 97% of India’s remaining forest landscape, which today remains unloved, unprotected and unknown, and is increasingly devoid of wildlife, overgrazed and exploited. Sadly there is nothing in these guidelines that gives anyone, the MOEF, communities or nature tourism, a legal ‘road map’ as to how they can be restored, restocked and revitalised. That to me is a real sadness and a real missed opportunity.” says the TOFT Chairman, Julian Matthews.

TOFT hopes that this ban and its heated debates, has helped to focus every stakeholder, from Panchayat heads to Field Directors, from park guides to lodge owners, to work together, and in far greater harmony, with great inclusion and partnership, to save more of India’s precious jungles and wildlife over the coming years.

More Archived TOFT News

New DMC member Alluring India Destination joins the Campaign
27 February 2015

The New Delhi based Alluring India Destination offers a range of spiritual and wildlife tours in India for the discerning wanderer. They believe in going beyond the itineraries and giving travellers an experience that is unique and one they will cherish. Spreading awareness on water and waste management within their staff, their customers, and the communities they visit, they promote responsible tourism in their daily operations as well. Periodical energy audits are done to ensure efficiency, and the involvement of local communities by the company go a long way in developing a healthy relationship that also benefits the visitors. - Read more...

Village Wildlife Guardians Training
11 February 2015

TOFTigers are delighted to announce the final completion of training for the first batch of Ranthambhore Village Wildlife Guardians. Ten villagers were chosen by the Forest Department and Tigerwatch, from key areas bordering the less well known eastern boundaries of the park, where wildlife-human conflict is often at its highest, and undergone training last weekend. Training was done by Field Director and his Deputy, experts including Dr Dharmendra Khandal and a Forester, on the raft of skills needed to become the village eyes and ears for the park. Each Guardian is being sponsored by a TOFTigers travel company member that makes its living off its visitors enjoying the park. To date sponsors include Abercrombie & Kent India, &Beyond India, idiscover, Royal India Holidays and Indian Wildlife Experiences (IWX). - Read more...

NEW LODGE MEMBER - Tora Eco Resort, Sundarbans, West Bengal
06 February 2015

A community based eco-resort on Bali Island in Sundarbans, West Bengal, a delta area famous for its dense mangrove forests rich with flora and fauna. Surrounded by lush green paddy fields and with a fishing pond on the banks of the river Gumdi, accommodation is in six cottages built in the rural style from mud and thatch with en-suite showers. Traditional Bengali, Indian and continental meals are served in a large open dining hall. Activities include village walks, local cultural activities, jungle safaris and boat trips. With a Quality PUG eco-rating, this is an admirable joint initiative by Vivada, Bali Nature and Wildlife Conservation Society and WWF’s Regional Director to enable sustainable tourism to lead tiger and forest conservation. - Read more...

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