Forest dept likely to cut 'hefty' fees for taking cams into the wild

Forest dept likely to cut 'hefty' fees for taking cams into the wild

Forest dept likely to cut 'hefty' fees for taking cams into the wild

The Forest Department has decided to revise the charges for taking cameras into national parks and wildlife/bird sanctuaries in Karnataka following strong negative feedback from wildlife photographers, just a day after the new rates came into force.

"We have received many complaints from people that the new rates are too high. The new rates even led to quarrels between our staff and tourists. So, we have decided to revise them," an official told DH.

Just after the new rates came into effect on November 1, many photographers and wildlife conservationists took to social media to vent their anger. Petitions were signed opposing it. In some cases, a simple message like #SafariBeda turned into a campaign.

"Bengaluru has the highest number of photographers, especially wildlife photographers. The increase in camera rates will act as a deterrent and send the message that the forest is open only to the niche, the influentials and the children of politicians," said Vedant L, a software professional and wildlife photographer.

Dinesh Kumble, the noted photographer and brother of ace cricketer Anil Kumble, also expressed shock. The rates have come into force at a time the state government is promoting 2017 as the Year of the Wild.

Amoghavarsha J S, a wildlife photographer and filmmaker, said that though the department's idea of access control in tiger reserves was good, it must promote other forests. The department should encourage people to photograph other animals, too, he added.

Forest, Environment and Ecology Minister B Ramanath Rai said he was not aware of the new rates. When told about the rates, he conceded that they were too high and promised to look into the matter.

Sources in the department said the fee would be Rs 100 for carrying cameras of 200 mm lenses and Rs 500 for cameras of 200 mm and above lenses.