India has some of the most staggering and beautiful wilderness and wildlife in the world. Housing one of the richest diversities of life forms on earth, the Indian peninsula is a veritable Eden. Today it is under siege like never before and yet, remarkably, it survives in all its diverse forms, from the high mountains of the Himalayas to the rich tropical forests of the Western Ghats; from the deserts of Thar to the cloudforests and swamps of Eastern India and the Sal and teak forests of Madhya Pradesh.
Experience and research shows that responsible wildlife and nature tourism can provide an invaluable platform to support and sustain parks, wildlife conservancies, buffer zones and local communities. It can also play an important role in poverty eradication.
To date there has been too little effort to enforce wildlife laws, too little communication and information to help Parks and tourists support each other and too little effort to encourage locally run responsible wildlife tourism. Its critical that local communities become stakeholders, rather than conservation victims, in the battle to save India's forests and wildlife.
Tiger tourism derives hundreds of millions of pounds, rupees and dollars of revenue for travel operators, accommodation and service providers in India yet a tiny, almost negligible, fraction of this is currently reinvested in the conservation of the very parks and reserves you will enjoy as part of your holiday.
Average park entry fees for Foreigners are around 300 rupees per visit raising a mere £4.00 or $8 per overseas visitor per entry, or 25 rupees for Indian visitors (35p/65c)- a sum not nearly sufficient to stem the tiger's decline, enhance park's ant poaching efforts, support local communities more directly or indeed cover the real costs of your wildlife experience. Often only a small part of this even gets back to the Park itself as it is lost to regional or central government funds.
This must change if we believe there is a future for Indian wildlife conservation, for all of us to enjoy, experience and benefit from in the future.