[Environment] SC Ban on Tiger Tourism, Core and Buffer Areas, Project Tiger, NTCA Guidelines explainedDevendra Vishwakarma
- What is core zones and Buffer Zone?
- What is Project Tiger?
- What is NTCA?
- Concept of Umbrella Species
- Timeline of Events
- Pro Arguments for Tiger Tourism
- Misleading information by Media
- Tiger Tourism actually helps the tigers
- Ban on Tourism hurts the tigers
- Anti-Tourism Arguments
- Sept-Oct 2012: NTCA frames guidelines
- October 2012: SC Lifts the Ban
- Appendix 1: List of 41 tiger reserves in India
- Appendix 2: Maps of Tiger Reserves in India
Before discussing Supreme Court’s ban on Tiger Tourism, Let us go through some basics.
What is core zones and Buffer Zone?
- Under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, the state governments have to notify the list of core and buffer areas of tiger reserves in their territory.
- Core zone (critical tiger habitats): This is where tigers usually rest, reside, feed and breed. Therefore, Government should prevent any disturbance in such areas, including tourism.
- Buffer zone = areas that lie in the periphery of the core zone.
- Buffer zones constitute the fringe areas (=The outside boundary or surface of something) of tiger reserves up to 10 kms. Following map should clear the concept:
What is Project Tiger?
- A 100% Centrally Sponsored Scheme, by Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF)
- It was launched in 1973, in nine reserves of different States (Assam, Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal)
- Right now it covers total 41 tiger reserves in 17 states.
- It is a program for “in-situ” conservation of Tigers. (what is the difference between in-situ vs ex-situ? What’re the pros and cons of each method? We’ve already seen it in an old article.
- In crude words,
- It provides for staff, equipment, and infrastructure in tiger reserves.
- Provides for money, in case a man or cattle is killed by wild animals, crop is lost, rehabilitation of villages etc.
What is NTCA?
- National Tiger Conservation Authority
- It is a provided in the Wildlife Protection Act (Ameneded in 2006).
- Therefore NTCA is a statutory body. The Minister of Environment and Forest, is the chairman of this NTCA. (Jayanthi Natarajan right now).
- It coordinates, implements and monitors Project Tiger.
- It prepares annual reports, which are laid down in the parliament.
Why is Tiger population threatened?
- Deforestation because of
- Human pressure: farming, mining, illegal felling of trees.
- Grazing of domestic animals
- Because of Deforestation, the size of tiger-prey (Deer, sambar etc.) has declined.
- Hence tigers have to come outside the protected areas to hunt for animals, including domestic cattle. This leads to man-animal conflict, tiger deaths in road accidents, and provides ample opportunities to poachers.
- Tiger breeding/ reproduction is reduced/disturbed due to highways, noise pollution, tourism etc.
- Tiger is a territorial animal, which advertises its presence in an area through urine marking and maintains a territory. Therefore, to support a population of 80-100 tigers, you’d need a protected area of atleast 1000 sqkm- totally undisturbed. Otherwise the male tigers would fight, maim and kill eachother and the weaker ones would be forced to hunt in surrounding villages- leading to man-animal conflicts.
- But because of the highways, villages, farming activities, the Habitats are getting fragmented. Habitat Fragmentation = bad for tigers. They cannot move, hunt or breed freely in small and fragmented habitats.
- Insurgency in North East and naxals in Central India= Forest dept. cannot efficiently work and protect tigers.
Concept of Umbrella Species: Why do we need to protect Tiger?
- Tiger is an “umbrella species”. It resides at the top of the jungle food chain.
- A healthy tiger population indicates that the other ecological components in its habitat are equally robust, since tigers need large amount of prey and good habitat.
- If the Umbrella species is protected, it will also ensure viable populations of other wild animals (co –predators like Leopords and prey like dears) and the habitat (trees, shrubs, water).
- Thus, when you’re protecting the tiger, you’re indirectly protecting the whole jungle and all the species that live in it.
- India has a bilateral understanding with Nepal on controlling trans -boundary illegal trade in wildlife and conservation,
- India has signed a protocol on tiger conservation with China
- India has signed a protocol has with Bangladesh for conservation of tigers in Sunderban region.
- India has Constituted a group on tiger and leopard conservation with Russia.
- India is a party to Convention on Inter national Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
- Unlike China, India doesn’t support captive breeding of tigers (breeding tigers on a commercial scale, to sell their hides and bones later, just like a poultry farm).
- India made an appealing to China to phase out tiger farming and eliminate stockpiles of Atiger body parts and derivatives.
Now coming to the topic of SC Ban on Tiger Tourism
July 2012: SC bans Tiger tourism
One Mr.Ajay Dubey (NGO named “Prayatna”) filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in Supreme court.