Wild Stripes View on Tiger Tourism

Wild Stripes Foundation believes tigers are best left alone, in large enough habitats with high densities of prey species. Unfortunately, currently this situation is something of a utopia. Recently, researchers have even advised that such a longterm vision should not interfere with direct action in and around the last 42 key sites with wild tiger populations, and that double the amount of money now dedicated to tiger conservation should be spent on these 42 sites.

The relationship between tiger tourism and tiger conservation is complicated. Wild Stripes Foundation does not unambiguously believe that tiger tourism, even ecotourism or sustainable tourism is good for tigers. On the other hand, tiger tourism is a part of reality, it is likely to raise awareness of environmental issues, locally and internationally, and, at a certain prize, may even give some level of protection to tigers living in the core area of national parks. A more cynical view would be that the core area is the breeding ground for poaching in the buffer zone, since on many occasions subadults leave the territories of the older generation in the core area, never to be seen again. In addition, when the level of vehicles entering small tourist zones is high, like in Bandhavgarh and Rhantambhore, core zone tigers may get accustomed to contact with people, which putatively increases the chance of man-animal conflict. Also, one may ask what kind of tiger it is that you get to see when you see these tourist zone tigers, id est, at a certain point, can we really still call them 'wild tigers' when they walk ten feet past gypsies filled with screaming and shouting tourists every other day? Or we can be wonder whether certain ways of approaching tigers bring about the special feeling they can and maybe should bring; think about 20 gypsies together on a certain spot, all fighting to be in front, sometimes 4 or 5 rows of cars next to each other, or think about the "Sher Darshan", or Tiger Show, when you wait in line for an elephant trip to a prelocated tiger...

Furthermore, local people benefit less from economic improvements due to tourism than is often claimed; more often than not luxurious resorts are build for high end tourists and very few locals profit from the money made.

Nevertheless, given the current situation which is that tourism is here to stay, we should make the best of it, encouraging potential tourists to 'become educated' and resort owners to make concrete steps towards sincere, sustainable tourim, and support decent behaviour inside the park. Ideally, one would want a certification mark that potential tourist could rely on. Attempts in that direction have been made (check for instance this site), but it will always be difficult to prevent commercial angles coming into play once this is taken to a bigger scale. Attempts have already been made to develop such a certification mark, for instance with a so called 'pug rating'. Wild Stripes wants to explicitly state that the educated tourist should inform himself and come to his own decision on this topic (e.g. the organisation behind the abovementioned rating has very strong beliefs about what tourism can do for conservation which we do not share).

For Wild Stripes Foundation this topic is relevant because it is a core factor in the complex web of human-animal relationships in and around Tiger Reserves. For now, we can only try to help you out thinking about what is relevant in sustainable tourism, provide questionnaire in pdf that you can bring with you on your trips, and perhaps highlight a few resorts-owners that we feel do have a heart for tigers, not (only) for money.

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Decline of Tiger Populations

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Wild Stripes Info

  • KvK Amsterdam 34265074
  • Address: Wild Stripes Foundation Ruisdaelstraat 60, 6521 LG Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  • Email: info@wildstripes.org



Please contribute to wildlife conservation. Wild Stripes Foundation does not take donations, but you can support us in different ways. If you want to make a direct contribution to anti-poaching operations in India, please check out the Wildlife Protection Society of India, run by Belinda Wright. For other possibilities, click here.wsf logo