Selfie-crazy tourists’ urge to go near the animals in the national parks and wildlife zones in the state’s Kumaon region keeps disturbing the animals in their habitats for thrills, despite authorities’ claim that ‘appropriate’ punitive actions are taken against the violators. But a number of incidents suggest that they (violators) are not being penalised to a desired degree.
The Gypsy drivers who take the tourists on safari inside the Corbett National park were pulled up by the park administration last month for taking people too close to animals.
Earlier in February, a foreign tourist was fined by the Corbett Tiger Reserve for playing the sound of bird calls in the park by attaching an amplifier and a speaker to his mobile phone, with an intention to attract birds. In addition, there are many photos shot by tourists which show how close people go to animals for experiencing the thrills.
Recently, a group of tourists going on Gypsies near Jamunchaur in Pawalgarh blocked the path of a herd of elephants going for quenching their thirst and forced them to return without drinking. A video shot in the Corbett Park also shows how people stood by the sides as a tiger killed a deer after pouncing on it.
Shivraj Chandra, warden of the Corbett National Park, said that they have taken punitive actions against violators. “A foreigner was fined Rs 10,000 for playing the sound of birds inside the park while some Gypsy drivers were also fined for taking tourists close to animals just for enhancing the thrills,” said Chandra adding that park officials ask the tourists to keep a safe distance from the animals which should not be less than 50 metres.
The dos and dont’s section of the official website of the Corbett National Park says, “Wear dull coloured clothes. Respect the wild animals and maintain a safe distance from them. Remember you are in their home and they get first priority.” But this piece of advice is not being heeded to by all the tourists visiting the park.
The rules and regulations say that the tourists can only go up to 20% of the core area of the park, which is being followed at present. But the urge of the people to go close to the animals is increasing by the day and this may lead to some incident in the future.
The Corbett park website has also a section called ‘Corbett wall of shame’ where it intends to identify rogue elements that pester wildlife inside the park.
Social activist Prabhat Dhyani, a resident of Ramnagar, says that there is a pressure on nature guides and drivers from the tourists to take them up close to the animals. “These people come here after spending a lot of money and want cheap thrills,” says Dhyani, adding that there should be a very strict monitoring of such violations inside wildlife zones.
He also says that this is also the cause of wild animals coming into the habitat of humans as the line between the two is diminishing due to the proximity.