Indian court extends ban on tiger tourism
The Indian Supreme court has extended the ban on tourism activities in core areas of tiger reserves until late September.
The court has also asked the government to set up a committee of environmental experts to look into the long-term implications of a tourism ban in natural reserves.
The July 24 mandate ordered tiger reserves to have a core area that only forestry officials would be able to enter. These areas would be surrounded by a buffer zone able to be visited by tourist jeeps. The order affects 41 tiger parks throughout the country, home to more than 1,700 tigers.
The ban on tourism in core areas had led to protests from states in tiger reserve areas as well as from environmentalists and conservationists. Belinda Wright, executive director of the New Delhi-based Wildlife Protection Society of India, told the Guardian that a tourism ban is a "total disaster," adding that "there is no way the forestry department alone can protect tigers from poachers and local encroachment on the land."
Though official figures on how many tourists visit tiger reserves each year were unavailable, according to the Wall Street Journal, a reserve may host between 180,000 and 220,000 domestic and foreigner visitors a year.
India's Supreme Court is meeting again on September 27 to reconsider the ban.