Friday, June 07, 2013

A model for managed wildlife tourism

I have ranted about the problem of overexploitation of wildlife reserves here, and here.

Sashi Jayatunge has written of her experience at Pench National Park, an Indian wildlife reserve here.

What a contrast with Sri Lanka's parks. Some of the highlights of the system include:

1. Jeeps with a very quiet engine, to minimise disturbance.
2. Limit on the number of vehicles allowed into the park, in this case 50 per day.
3. To minimise intrusion still further, strict routes assigned to each jeep through a draw. This will spread the (already limited) traffic through the park so that there is no congestion or noise.
4. Routes are planned so that only 2/3 of waterholes are covered, which ensures that the animals always have area free of human activity at all times.
5. The park closes during the rainy season to further minimise stress on the ecosystem.  
6. No mobile phones or cigarettes.

These are just the highlights, there are a few more at the link above and the story itself is well worth reading.

We can continue to ravage our parks in the name of tourism (but actually in search of a quick buck and a cheap thrill-sight a leopard and upload to Facebook) or we can pose the question as to the founding purpose of a nature reserve, whether we intend them to exist in the long term and start to act; even now.

Dr R L Spittel, who played such an influential role in the establishment of our parks would surely turn in his grave if he were to see their current state.

PS. Found some of R L Spittel's photographs here.


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