Are we waiting for disaster to strike in tiger reserves?

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 17 Apr 2018 12:44:33


By Nandu Andhare,

Season for maximum number of tiger sightings has finally arrived. Next two months, will see hordes of visitors visiting the Tiger Reserves in Vidarbha . Resorts are fully booked till end of season. Going by the photographs appearing in leading newspapers of the city, frequency of sighting of a tigress with cubs is increasing. Some of the pictures going viral on social media about sightings in various Tiger Reserves indicate the closeness of tourist vehicles to the tiger or a family of tigers comprising adults and sub-adults, cubs. What is alarming is that the safari vehicles appear to be stationary with their engines shut off, waiting for the big cat to make the necessary moves. Some video clips show the tiger coming almost at sniffing distance of the vehicle-driver, like the famous Maya tigress of Tadoba looking inside the vehicle, probably planning her next move.

From the videos and pictures, it appears that Gypsy drivers and guides are probably making the extra buck by taking the visitors as close to the tiger as possible and at times confronting the big cat head on, where roads are isolated, instead of backing off to ward off any possible charge and danger to the occupants.

The Forest Department must take cognisance of the goings on seriously and impose restrictions on the drivers and guides of not switching off the engine of the vehicle, not meeting the family of tigers head on or cause nervousness to a tigress with cubs by getting too close. They must maintain sufficient distance and not gherao the animal. A timely briefing and word of caution conveyed to the drivers and guides in an understandable language that conveys the stern warning underlying the meeting, will help in avoiding what could be a terrifying incident, that will have long term damaging implications on tiger safaris.

It is in the interest of resort-owners, safari vehicle drivers and guides to see reason, if they have to see to their bread and butter which is in abundant supply, highest in the ensuing two months.