The Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR) management will introduce ecotourism within the buffer zone of the reserve from July 1, an official said on Sunday.
The ecotourism activity in the buffer zone will help save wildlife in the reserve and generate livelihood opportunities for villagers living on the periphery of the tiger reserve, besides developing Alwar city as a tourist destination, said RS Shekhawat, field director of the STR.
“Ecotourism activity the buffer zone of the reserve will help in adding new dimensions to tourism in Alwar,” he told Hindustan Times.
“We expect to attract a large number of tourists from the national capital region. Local people will be employed as nature guides. Vehicle owners and drivers will be engaged in tourism activities. Villagers will be encouraged to open restaurants and home stay facilities for tourists,” he said.
An area of 332 sq km was added to the STR as buffer zone outside the core tiger habitat of 881 sq km, making total area of 1213 sq km.
In 2012, the Supreme Court directed that only 20% of core tiger habitat can be sued for ecotourism.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority guidelines state that no new area can be opened for tourism within a core tiger habitat and efforts have to be made to divert tourist pressure from the core reserve area to the buffer zone.
In Alwar, a number of tourist points are being developed at Pratap Bandh,Bala Quila, Bara Liwari and Siliserh Lake within the buffer zone of the reserve that is rich in wildlife like panther, hyena, jackal, sambhar, wild boar, variety of birds and reptiles.
The presence of tiger ST-11 in the buffer zone will be an added attraction for tourists, besides the Siliserh Lake, which has one of the largest populations of crocodiles in the country, is worth seeing when the animals come out of the water in large numbers to bask in the sun.
Thirty villagers have been selected and are being trained as nature guides though the eco development committees.
Presently, Alwar city does not benefit from tourist activities in the STR like the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Sawai Madhopur.
The introduction of ecotourism in the region will also help in developing other destinations within the city, including Moosi Maharani ki Chatri, City Museam, Hope Circus, Company Bagh and Fateh Jung ki Gummad and promote home stays and opening of souvenior shops.
More than half the revenue from ecotourism will go directly to eco development committees and the rest will go to the Sariska Tiger Conservation Foundation, which will be ploughed back for development of forest and wildlife and supporting livelihood of local people, said Shekhawat.