State government unable to check Guerrilla Tourism

Trekkers sneak into forest areas illegally

State government unable to check Guerrilla Tourism

 Adventure groups, trekkers and forest department officials are calling the cases of trekkers entering forest areas illegally and camping there, Guerilla Tourism and the government is unable to control it.

A recent example of this are the two trekkers, who went missing at Bababudangiri hills in Chikkamagaluru on Sunday. They were found at Hebby Falls, in Bhadra Tiger Reserve on Tuesday evening around 7.30 pm. They were part of a 10-member group from the Greater Hyderabad Adventure Club and they were trekking without permission.

Guerilla Tourism is an undetectable form of adventure wildlife tourism, where groups of people or adventure clubs, sneak into forest areas, trek and camp at night.

This form of illegal day and night trekking takes place at many places such as Kudremukh, Kodachadri, Kumara Parvatha, Thadiyandamol, Mullayanagiri, Kuntibetta, Antaragange, Kabbaladurga, Savanadurga and Makalidurga, said Dev Balaji of Nature Admire and adventure event organiser.

It has gained popularity in the last 2-3 years. Adventure clubs tie-up with corporates or professionals, aged between 18-35 years, with money to splurge and eager on adventure. Trekkers are charged anything between Rs 2000-5000, depending upon destination.

Though the Forest and Tourism departments are promoting destinations, they have no control over this. They are unable to keep a check on most places because of a shortage in staff, lack of check posts and co-ordination with other departments and district administration. Also, many illegal resorts and home stays have mushroomed around destinations which shelter and help tourists sneak into forest areas through routes known to the locals.

Sam Enoch, Field Coordinator at Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society and former Karnataka adventure tourism member said Western Ghats (WG) and Himalayan trails are popular for trekking and adventure sports. The Karnataka WG patch is highly popularised across south Indian regions. People have money to splurge and want to experience what is shown on NatGeo and Discovery channels. There is a demand and supply, so adventure companies, especially new start-ups, bank on this.

Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (wildlife) Ajay Mishra admitted that this has become a major menace. He said that vigil will be increased. Meetings with other departments and local administration will also be held. All resorts and home-stays will be checked. Local support is must for this and they will be roped in, he said.

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