Monday, January 24, 2011

Kaziranga National Park to Place Restrictions on Tourism

Wild water buffaloes in Kaziranga National Park

The Kaziranga National Park in Assam is one of the most biologically diverse hotspots in India. It is home to a rich variety of wildlife found nowhere else, but in India's northeast corner. One of the flagship species found there is the Indian one-horned rhinoceros, which makes its home in the park's lush swamplands and succulent grasslands. Other animal species endemic to the region include the wild water buffalo, the swamp deer, the hog deer, and the gigantic Indian elephant. With such abundance of wild creatures, Kaziranga has become popular in India's tourist industry. However, the impact of tourism can also have a negative effect on the wildlife just as illegal poaching and habitat destruction does. Which is why authorities have now began to impose regulations on the tourist flow. This idea has brought them into conflict with business ventures such as luxury resorts, whose owners oppose the move fearing that it would affect the tourism. According to park director Surajeet Dutta, the wild animals have been under tremendous pressure because of tourists flowing every year from November to April. He stated that in order to prevent further pressure, the park has banned the construction of new hotels and restaurants near it. However, he further added that as well as imposing restrictions, the authorities made other plans for tourists. These include introducing jeep and elephant safaris in newly-added areas, and not in the park's core area.

I'm very happy to see how the authorities of Kaziranga are imposing such restrictions, in order to prevent further pressure on the wild animals. I personally feel that this strategy should also be used in other national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across India. One particular national park, Gir Forest, had recently witnessed a massive flow of tourism because of an advertisement featuring Amitabh Bachchan promoting tourism in Gujarat. With so many tourists pouring in, it was easy to say that the local wildlife was deeply disturbed due to increasing pressure. Just because a powerful celebrity in the Indian film industry shoots for an advertisement promoting tourism of a wild place does not mean people should rush down to that place in large swarms. They should understand the importance of their local wildlife, and harmless tourism itself can also have a negative impact as well as poaching and habitat destruction. India is one of the few places in this world for having a rich variety of wildlife found nowhere else in the world. In order to protect the wildlife, it is important that besides establishing national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, there should be limitations in the flow of tourism. This way, the wildlife can continue to flourish without any such disturbance.

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