On July 9, 1969, India declared the Royal Bengal Tiger as its national animal. The majestic big cat has been the symbol of India since time immemorial. Believed by many to be the guardians of the forest, the Royal Bengal Tiger has been in the news for unhappy reasons.
For instance, the first report on the Royal Bengal Tiger today talks about the death of a farmer in Dudhwa National Park’s buffer zone at the hands of a tiger.
Yet, the Panthera Tigris Tigris, popularly known as the Royal Bengal Tiger, has been revered by Indians since time immemorial. Depicted in the seals discovered from the Indus Valley sites, celebrated as the mother of the divine ride of the Goddess of Power, Durga in Hindu literatures, and is currently the emblem of the Reserve Bank of India (India’s central banking institution which controls the monetary policy of the Indian rupee).
In other news, every week forest officials have been recovering tiger skin among many other illegal collectibles from nabbed poachers. India has not been able to save the face of its mascot.
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While wildlife tourism has historically been seen as a threat to wildlife preservation, it may not be true. A WWF report in February 2015 has shown that tiger parks across the world generate over US$600 billion per annum in revenue from visitors.
Responsible tourism can bring in much needed economic benefits to the local population, while dis-incentivizing poaching and demonstrating the importance of protecting the tiger and its habitats. This would directly contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 15, which talks about sustainably managing forests.. and halting biodiversity loss.
There are 49 tiger reserves in India where responsible travellers can go to visit these majestic animals. All reserves are presently closed for the monsoon and will re-open in October. Some of the best ones to visit with #Alpaviram are:
Pench, Panna, Bandhavgarh, Satpura and Kanha in Madhya Pradesh
Ranthambore in Rajasthan
Jim Corbett in Uttarakhand
Bandipur in Karnataka
Sundarbans in West Bengal
Kaziranga in Assam
The author is Ritesh Datta, Co-Founder of Alpaviram. He can be reached at email@example.com