Forest guides protest against UK-based NGO

Forest guides protest against UK-based NGO

Hundreds of tourists guides and drivers working for various tiger reserves in Maharashtra and central India are protesting against Survival International, a United Kingdom-based group's appeal to foreigners to boycott Indian tiger reserves.

Stephen Corry, Director, SI, wrote an open email to global community saying: "India's government is illegally evicting tribal people from their forest homes. They are being forced out because the forests that they have cared for since time immemorial have been turned into tiger reserves....Hundreds of thousands of tourists in jeeps are permitted to enter the reserves. This disturbs the tigers, gets them used to human presence (which helps poachers), and creates litter and pollution....I pledge to boycott Indian tiger reserves....".

Kishor Rithe, President of Satpuda Foundation, who is a member of Maharashtra State Board for Wildlife, said that this campaign is against India and its economic development.

"Our tribals are protecting the forests and ripping its benefit through wildlife tourism. Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve earn more than 5 crore revenue from tourism every year and most of the share goes back to local communities. Also it has provided direct employment to around 2,500 locals. This is by following Supreme Court orders and NTCA guidelines. The similar picture can be seen in other Tiger Reserves of Vidarbha as well as India. We condemn this campaign and appeal to foreign tourist that our tribals are happy and their livelihood comes from tourism and conservation and not from bushmeat like Africa."

"We have not given consultancy to SI to speak on our behalf", said Bandu Uike, President of Eco-development Committee of Ghatpendhari village in Pench Tiger Reserve. Its totally unethical to make an appeal to foreign tourist by using the name of Indian tribal communities, he stated further.

On an average, each tiger reserve generates around 1500 direct employment opportunities, besides a few thousand indirect jobs, besides the revenues generated through various tourism activities activities.

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