Sunday, August 14, 2005

The tiger doesn't get a cut

Peter Foster reports in The Standard:
Tourists who pay up to 30,000 rupees to watch Indian tigers from luxurious eco-lodge hotels are contributing almost nothing to the animals' well-being or their parks, according to a new conservation report.
Its findings will astonish tourists who visit parks such as Ranthambore Reserve in Rajasthan and leave convinced that, with their patronage, they are helping to save the species.

The report he's quoted from, Joining the Dots, is controversial. Valmik Thapar doesn't agree with the conclusions of the Tiger Task Force, while Sunita Narain defends their position.
In absolute terms, you've got to agree with Valmik, who's seen attempts at conservation and resettling humans around tiger sanctuaries come up against realpolitik time after time--and the ones who pay the price are the animals we're supposed to be protecting. Sunita Narain's platform is pragmatism, which is another way of saying that there isn't much you can do about a situation where humans encroach on sanctuary space except try and handle it, since it's going to happen anyway.
And you can't get a soundbyte from a tiger; so the focus always stays on the sufferings of humans, with the sufferings of the animals who are forced to live with us on our terms blanketed in silence.

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