New entrance for tourists may add pressure on Corbett tigers

More tourist inflow is likely to add pressure on the habitat of tigers at the Corbett reserve, which already faces a space crunch, wildlife activists said

dehradun Updated: Nov 20, 2017 20:15 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand News,Corbett tigers,Corbett Tiger Reserve
New entrance gate of Corbett Tiger Reserve in Dhikala, Ramnagar. (HT Photo)

More tourist inflow is likely to add pressure on the habitat of tigers at the Corbett reserve, which already faces a space crunch, wildlife activists said.

The most densely populated Corbett tiger reserve has only 6 sqkm area for a big cat -- 15 times less than what is suggested by scientists of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). The reserve, spread across 1288 sqkm, is home to 215 tigers, according to the All-India Tiger Estimation, 2014.

In a latest, the reserve, which has six tourist zones and six entry gates, is going to officially inaugurate one of its less popular entrance in Garhwal-Kotdwar. Chief minister TS Rawat is likely to open it on November 27.

The forest minister said tourism would get a leg-up with the new gate, but officials said the move aimed at streamlining tourist flow.

“The entrance was less popular as compared to Dhikala in Ramnagar. The idea is to connect Corbett tourism with Kotdwar so that locals could get better livelihood opportunities,” forest minister Harak Singh Rawat said.

For officials, opening of the gate is a strategy to restructure tourism. “The tourists were taking the route, but we could not regulate the number. Now, we have taken permission from the National Tiger Conservation Authority to regulate influx through the gate,” Corbett director Surendra Mehra told Hindustan Times.

Whether it’s streamlining or pushing up tourism, the pressure will mount on the big cats. As many as 30 gypsies (vehicles) will be allowed from the gate that leads to the core area of the reserve.

On November 18, a female tiger was found dead in Dhela range of the reserve. Officials said the big cat died during infighting. Of the 13 tiger mortalities in the state this year, six are from Corbett, says the NTCA’s official website.

Corbett received over 2.5 lakh tourists, generating nearly Rs 10 crore. The reserve opened for tourists on November 15 and will close before monsoon on June 15.

“Corbett is a popular destination for both Indians and foreigners, but it’s time we regulated tourism. There’s the need to fix a limit on vehicles and people going inside everyday,” a wildlife activist said, requesting anonymity. “But, opening a gate for tourists for their movement would add on pressure from that side too.”

First Published: Nov 20, 2017 20:15 IST