ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Tiger in the Drawing Room

With decisions like the Supreme Court's interim order banning tourism inside tiger sanctuaries becoming inevitable in the face of increasing political and executive resistance to expansion of protected nature reserves on public land, the issue of tiger tourism calls for a pragmatic approach that can resolve contradictions between the burgeoning tourism demand and the tiger's shrinking habitats. A "Tiger Habitat Expansion Model", based on a shared profi t motive between private landowners and tourism entrepreneurs rather than government intervention, is one that can help the tourism industry move towards a sustainable growth model that leverages its economic strength to expand tiger habitats.

India's Tiger Counts: The Long March to Reliable Science

Following the recommendations of the Tiger Task Force in 2005, the first national tiger estimation survey by the Wildlife Institute of India-National Tiger Conservation Authority in 2006-07 switched to "sampling" of tiger populations, finally abandoning the flawed pugmark census. However, since methodological details of the WII surveys are not available in the public domain, a technical assessment of the reliability of these survey results is not possible.

Reconciling Conservation with Emancipatory Politics

While the Tiger Task Force in its report claims to have unleashed a paradigm shift towards a new "Indian way" of saving tigers, its vision is short on specifics as to how all this can actually work on the ground. Its model boldly advocates balancing nature conservation imperatives with emancipatory politics, yet it does not appear to have carefully analysed the many state level factors that are perhaps responsible for the collapse of tiger protection mechanisms in the country. Instead, the task force expounds a predominantly Delhi-centric vision of top-down tiger policy-making and implementation. This was perhaps inevitable given the composition of the task force and its reliance on the ministry of environment for information and ideas.
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