IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol.1 Issue II

State of Wildlife Tourism:

When will the wildlife tourism sector practice what it preaches – that it is non-consumptive and has minimal impact on the wildlife and wilderness? When will our wildlife tourism sector understand its resposibilities? These and many more thoughts crossed my mind when I was returning from Kabini on Sunday night. I was suffering from cough and cold, and in a moment of inspiration, I had driven down to Kabini for a day to recharge my batteries.

I had checked into Cicada resort in Kabini on Saturday. I was new to Cicada, though not new to the other resorts in the area. It has all the creature comforts like swimming pool, spa, gym to keep in tune with the profile of its clientele

I took three safaris into the park, in the vehicle organised by Cicada (outside vehicles are not allowed in Nagarhole. Only resorts like JLR, Cicada, Waterwoods etc are allowed to ply their vehicles that seat 9 people). On Sunday morning there was a sighting of leopard with cub on a tree. In the evening, at Old MM Road inside Nagarhole we stopped the vehicle on hearing alarm calls by langurs. A leopard was trying to hunt langurs. We could hear the leopard roaring. There was another vehicle apart from our own. Soon one more vehicle reached the spot making it three vehicles waiting for the leopard to come out of the lantana bushes. Another vehicle of Cicada (KL 03 MF8956) reached the spot after being informed over mobile by our naturalist. The vehicle was loaded with foreigners. Some of them had cameras with small wide angle and intermediate zoom lenses.

My vehicle was in front and when the leopard came out of the bush and surveyed the surroundings, everybody was quiet and waiting. I had my camera ready. Suddenly the other vehicle of Cicada, carrying the foreigners, which was way behind other vehicles decided to go off road and move to the front in a desperate measure to have a better sighting for the foreigners. The vehicle drove like a rally car and sped towards the leopard. The vehicle was about 15 -20 feet off the road. The leopard which was slowly crossing the road got frightened and bolted. The crowd in the vehical were over excited after sighting the leopard from such a short distance.

Leopard running in Kabini to evade a jeep full of tourists of cicada lodge

I was stunned to say the least. These are the high end tour operators who talk of responsible tourism all the time. But then understand how much will be the returns by breaking the rules. The foreigners are always sought after and given preferential treatment. Perhaps, if a foreigner would have been in my vehicle, then they would have been more restraint in their approach, for the fear of displeasing another foreigner. For them the welfare of the leopard was not important. They happily endangered the life of the leopard. Though they messed with my leopard experience, I felt more humiliated as they show scant regard for Indians when foreign clients are around. Who says racism is dead? It is thriving and has many supporters in the wildlife tourism sector.

There has to be a cataclysmic change in the attitude in wildlife tourism sector, else the damage done would be irreparable. Let me know your thoughts on this issue, or if any other similar experience.

Conservation of Wild India:

As mentioned in the last newsletter our conservation initiatives are gathering momentum and some have borne fruit. You may check the following links:

Effect of Urbanisation and Skewed Biodiversity: A Chandaka Perspective

Save Telineelapuram

Sustainable Use – the death sentence for Indian Wildlife?
An interesting discussion about sustainable use becoming the messenger of hell for Indian Wildlife. You can participate in the poll as well.

Wildlife Photography:
The Wildlife Photography section has got a big boost due to the images depicting animal behaviour, thanks to our moderator Vikram Nanjappa. Wish more and more people had a camera in hand to document such behaviour.

The links to some of the noteworthy images in Jan 09 – Feb 09 are given below:

A sick Elephant from Nagarhole by Vikram Nanjappa

A Black Shouldered Kite by Rajpal Navalkar

A serene image of the Sunrise at Kabini by Rajan Kanagasabai

A realistic shot of the Deaths of Olive Ridley Turtles in Orissa by Bibhav Behera

Wilderness Updates:

– The Elephant Attack on the road from Masinagudi to Bandipur by Rajan Kanagasabai: An issue highlighting the plight of animals as more and more roads cut into their territory, rash driving. I wish we accept that animals have the right of way.

– Usage of Plastics in No Plastic Zone by Shallu Bansal – A pertinent issue that has crosses our minds when we see the devastations that are happening all around due to the indiscriminate use and throw of plastics.

I look forward to your suggestions and feedback.

Sabyasachi Patra
16th February, 2009

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