New Delhi, Oct 26 A new wildlife report claims that tourism-related opportunities in and around four tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh contributed nearly Rs 75 crore to the local community while generating Rs 19 crore in revenue for the government during the financial year 2016-2017.
Titled "The Value of Wildlife Tourism for Conservation and Communities", the report by eminent tiger scientist Raghunandan S Chundawat was launched here today.
Based on surveys conducted around Panna, Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Pench tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh, the report noted that the local communities were among the major beneficiaries of the money generated by guided-tours, drivers, vehicle owners, local shops, eateries etc.
"With direct employment and non-salaried employment, including guides and safari vehicle owners, the major beneficiaries of wildlife tourism are the local communities. In fact, over 80 per cent of lodge employees are locals," Chundawat said.
Based on a survey done in 133 lodges in the area, the report found that the facilities see only 31 per cent occupancy per annum on average.
Despite this, the tourism sector was able to plough back into the local economy nearly Rs 75 crore, which was almost 45 per cent of the communities' total revenue, he added.
Chundawat pointed out that although successful, most tiger reserves in India are small and the tiger populations protected within their boundaries are not viable.
He suggested that there was a need to look at new, parallel and complementary models to build on the success of these protected areas and "take tiger conservation beyond their boundaries".
"Exclusionary models of conservation are no longer feasible over a large landscape. Our findings show that wildlife tourism can provide one way of doing this.
"With support and improved sustainable practices, tourism could provide a paradigm to spread benefit to tigers and people over a much broader area," he said.
The report, commissioned by conservation charity TOFTigers, also suggested that since the employment generated by wildlife tourism is higher "the dependency of these communities on the forest is reduced and their positive attitude towards wildlife conservation is much enhanced now".