The Supreme Court’s decision banning tourism in core areas of tiger habitats overlooks several critical considerations. It will harm, rather then help, the cause of tiger conservation.
For a start, it gives way too much power to the forest department. The ban will mean only one agency will both implement the tiger protection agenda, and audit that process.
The various forest and environment officials at the Centre and at the State level have a terrible record of tiger protection. They had held up the absurd number of 5,000 wild tigers in India till recently when it was already clear to every one (including the much maligned lodge owners) that there are only about 1,500 tigers left in India.
Tellingly, the two parks from where the tiger completely disappeared due to poaching were Panna and Sariska and both were not in the top ten most visited by tourists. In contrast, parks with the highest tiger density, such as Ranthambhore and Corbett, are amongst the most visited In India.