Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
What next on Iran’s nuclear deal: follow the news here

India's top court bans tiger park tourism and imposes habitat fines

India's supreme court has banned tourism in tiger reserves in a ruling that aims to protect the big cats.

NEW DELHI // India's top court banned tourism in tiger reserves across the country Tuesday in a ruling that aims to protect the endangered big cats but may disrupt travel plans for droves of tourists who booked stays at the hundreds of hotels that have sprung up deep inside the forests.

The Supreme Court also announced stiff penalties on Indian states that have not created buffer zones around tiger habitats, said Wasim Kadri, a lawyer with the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

The court fined six states for failing to declare buffer zones around tiger reserve forests and gave officials three weeks to act on its orders.

India is home to more than half of the world's estimated 3,200 tigers, with most of them living in wildlife reserves set up since the 1970s.

Hundreds of hotels and shops operate inside the tiger reserves to cater to wildlife-watching tourists.

The court said the ban was temporary, pending its final judgment on a case filed by a wildlife activist demanding that all commercial activity be banned from the core area of the reserve forests where the tigers live.

Conservationist Ajay Dube had complained to the court that authorities in several states had allowed the construction of hotels, wildlife resorts and shops in the core areas of the forest reserves. He told the court that critical tiger habitats should be kept safe from all types of human disturbances, including tourism.

In April, the court had ordered eight states to declare buffer zones around the tiger reserves within three months. Only two states had complied with the court ruling, prompting the judges to impose a fine on the remaining six.

The ban on tourism in the "core" tiger habitat areas of the reserves set off protests from tour and travel operators who say stopping tourism will encourage illegal wildlife trafficking as poachers will not be hindered by the presence of tourists.

Travel Operators for Tigers, a travel trade grouping, said tigers were safer in reserves that were visited by large numbers of tourists.

"The highest densities of tigers can be found today in the most heavily visited tiger reserves," said a statement from the group. "Unseen and unloved" wildlife sanctuaries and forests lost all their tigers and wildlife to poaching, grazing and neglect, it said.

The ban on hotels in the core areas of the tiger reserves will hit the holiday plans of hundreds of tourists who have booked rooms to stay in the forest. They will have to move to hotels and resorts outside the reserves.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greeted by university students as he leaves Sistan University in Sistan and Baluchestan’s provincial capital of Zahedan on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

In Iran’s most troubled province, Rouhani hears pleas for change

Hassan Rounani aims to connect with residents of far-flung Sistan and Baluchestan province.

 Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Riyadh on March 3, 2007. Hassan Ammar / AFP Photo

Saudi Prince Bandar promised a victory he could not deliver

Saudi Arabia's controversial intelligence chief stepped down this week after rumours that his policies on Syria had fallen out of favour.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen. AFP Photo

The inner workings of Gulen’s ‘parallel state’

Fethullah Gulen's followers are accused of trying to push Turkey's prime minister from power.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National