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

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Nature Lovers, Picnickers and Bourgeois Environmentalism

India's middle class visitors to the country's wildlife sanctuaries and protected areas are ignored in policy formulation as well as academic analyses of wildlife conservation. Traditionally, the conservation discourse has focused on the face-off between elite conservation institutions and the marginalised social groups, with domestic tourists being overlooked. At best, the latter are looked upon by the scientific-administrative elite as frivolous picnickers. But this neglect of an everincreasing constituency is an opportunity lost to gain its support for conservation policies and practices. It also means that the considerable investment and planning needed to promote environmental education as part of a visit to a protected area is missing.

Exclusion in Madhav National Park

This paper, using (largely qualitative) ethnographic data, explores Madhav National Park's strict exclusionary policy and how new conservation narratives could be developed there. It argues that the current exclusionary logic, as manifested at Madhav, is flawed. Biodiversity is rapidly diminishing. Autocratic governance precipitates alienation among the lower strata of local people and contributes to illegal resource expropriation. Park policy ignores locally-embedded ability to protect biodiversity and willingness to be educated to that end. There is a pressing need for biological protection at Madhav but severe deprivation also exists in the area. Consequently, site-specific strategies are required that build not solely upon biology or economics but combine these concerns with sensitivity to the lower strata of people that live around the park and to the potential social, material and cultural costs of conservation policies.
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