Two fresh video clips showing tourists blocking the path of a tiger the Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) have surfaced, putting a question mark on the precautionary measures adopted by the officials. The videos were shot at Sambhar road in Dhikala zone on November 17, just two days after the reserve opened for public.
Posted on YouTube by Harmit Ahuja, a wildlife enthusiast from Chandigarh, the first clip of 46 seconds shows the tiger emerging on the banks of River Ramganga and trying to move towards deeper forest. The path, however, is seen blocked by a group of tourist vehicles. Some drivers are seen trying to reverse their vehicles but the resulting noise forces the tiger to move away.
The area where the incident took place is silent zone.
“...unfortunately he (the tiger) was not allowed to cross the path, which was blocked by the Jeeps, which was not very encouraging to watch. While sighting (the tiger) was an amazing experience, the nature and wild needs to be respected at all times,” Harmit posted on YouTube.
The second video of 1.08 minutes was shot few minutes later when the tiger was spotted in the same area about 500 mt away. The clip shows the tiger crouched by the dirt path, which had tourists on both sides. While one side was blocked by a Gypsy, the other side had tourists on an elephant alongwith another Gypsy, which is seen reversing towards the big cat. Apparently agitated at the noise, the tiger is seen sizing up the elephant. It is seen charging towards the elephant before disappearing into the thickets.
“I have seen the videos. We are trying to identify the Gypsy drivers and the nature guides. We have deployed forest staff for patrolling and have also put cameras to register violations,” Surendra Mehra, director, Corbett, told Hindustan Times.
As per the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) protocol, there should be a minimum distance of 20 metres between tourists and the tiger. Also, only 1 minute glance is permitted to avoid any pressure on the animal.
This is not the first time that such an incident has been reported from Corbett, which is home to 240 tigers as per All India Tiger Estimation 2014.
In April, a 1.16-minute video had come light where tiger was seen petrified after its path was blocked by six tourist vehicles in the Bijrani zone. The authorities had cancelled the license of a tourist guide in this connection.
Before opening the gates for tourists this season, the authorities had put two time-lapse cameras to record violations in Dhikala zone. They had also sensitized nature guides and the 94 registered Gypsy drivers to avoid any such incidents.