Courting the wild

Courting the wild

The Forest Department's proposal to slash the rates of the seven newly launched eco-trails such as Skandagiri, Savandurga, Makalidurga, Siddarabetta, Avalabetta, Devarayanadurga and in Bidarakatte has drawn a mixed response from trekkers in the city.

While the reduction in rates could attract more people, this could also have deleterious consequences as more footfalls mean the chances of the place being littered are high.

Most trekkers are happy with the decision but they point out that this move should be accompanied by increased monitoring to make sure that people don't destroy the eco-friendly spaces.

Deepa Bhat, an avid trekker, points out that slashing the rates without proper guidelines should not be done. "The reduction in rates must come with stringent rules and regulations. For instance, people must be asked not to carry or use plastics in the trekking zone and there must be a proper check on consuming alcohol and smoking. Trekkers must be asked to use GPS so that they don't lose their way. These are just some of the guidelines that must come with the reduction in rates," says Deepa.

Kaushik Bajibab, a regular trekker and founder of Wishbone, a wildlife and adventure travel company, feels that instead of attracting more people, the Forest Department officials must make efforts to educate the existing trekkers on the importance of wildlife conservation. He says, "Charging a huge fee makes sense if it is utilised well by the forest department. They could use it for paying better salaries and educating the guides on wildlife etiquette. This will help trekkers." He also observes that of late, one has been witnessing excessive tourism in many critical wildlife habitats. "Tourism should be promoted by adopting proper measures. It must be used as a tool to enlighten trekkers on wildlife and critical places within the forest. The information provided must help individuals to understand their role and the importance in maintaining a healthy balance in the wild," adds Kaushik.

 

Vinay Nagaraj, an IT professional and a regular trekker, has travelled to almost all the prominent trekking spots like Roopkund in Uttarakhand, Stok Kangri in Leh, Meesapulimala, Tadiandamol, Kodachadri and Kudremukh. He points out that the proposal to reduce the rates must be accompanied by an increase in the fine amount for violations. "The reduction in rates may attract more visitors, so forest officials must now take measures to keep a close watch on the movement of people within the forest. There aren't enough CCTV cameras inside the forest to monitor the activities. This must be looked into," he says.

 

 

Nima Soman, yet another trekker, adds, "The advantages of leveraging a fee would help in guarding the ecosystem. Instead of opening food stalls along the trek trails, the officials could use the fee to buy aerial pod trolleys that can enhance better transportation of the food and baggages of the trekkers to the trek place. This would  prevent littering," adds Nima.

 

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