Over 80% of the population across national parks in central India like Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Pench, Satpura and Panna is tribal. The daily lives of most of the tribal people living around these national parks depend on tourism and hospitality. This effect may not go away within 2 to 3 years.
Coronavirus Outbreak and its effect on Tiger Tourism
As discussed earlier, around 80% of villagers’ lives depend on forest tourism and the lockdown will affect forest reserves even more badly than we think. Around 3 to 4 million people live around or inside wildlife protected areas.
At the end of the first lockdown on April 14, PM Modi addressed the nation and ordered further extension till May 3 considering safety of citizens. Due to this reason, all the national parks and tiger reserves in India will remain shut amid Coronavirus lockdown. At the end, it deprives the livelihoods of villagers who depend on tiger tourism, hotels, resorts and taxi services.
The Union environment ministry has issued a guideline to all the forest departments of the states to contain any kind of outbreak in national parks, tiger reserves and all conserved areas. Due to this move, all wildlife destinations have been closed for the given period.
How long can it affect?
Across the forest conserved areas, wildlife tourism has been closed. But it could hit hard and snatch the living of hundreds of thousands of tribal people and take them to poverty. Even worse, it may impact their lives for around 2 to 3 years even after lockdown ended. Due to the impending economy of the country, many tourists will avoid traveling. Many people would think of saving money and spending only on essential goods for living, rather than traveling the world. Even if the national parks reopen, the effect will not go anytime soon.
In addition, all the national parks and tiger reserves remain closed during monsoon for tourism. If the existing situation doesn’t come under control, all protected areas may stay closed till winter.
As a result, a lot of drivers and tour guides are going to lose their work for that period. It is up to the wildlife foundations and private operators to help each other in this tough situation and take care of their losses. The state governments are trying harder to protect the wages of forest employees.
Usually, tiger reserves witness a hike of tourists from April to June just before monsoon, thanks to the high chances of spotting tigers because of sparse cover of greens. It adds to more visibility of wildlife in summers. Lives of hundreds of thousands of tribal people, who live around and inside these areas rely on natural resources, will be affected. The advisory has been issued to restrict the villagers’ movements in these areas.
Is the travel industry paralyzed?
According to tourism and travel company officials, they have never seen such a huge number of cancellations in history. This uniformly dark pandemic led the travel industry to complete paralysis from February to late March 2020. The crisis hits the nerves of railways, airlines, hotels and resorts and the tourism industry has come to a standstill. It is not easy to claim whether it will recover soon or not.
Experts believe that it is the worst crisis in the tourism industry and it has affected all its domestic, inbound, outbound, cruise, leisure, corporate tourism, leisure, and other segments. The timing was even worse. February to May usually remains a peak season for tour and travel companies, when a lot of Indians travel for vacation and leisure, wildlife excursions, and pilgrimage.
Almost every industry is suffering uncertainty for its future with the global outbreak of Coronavirus. People in banking/financial services, IT and pharmaceuticals have felt the effect of the virus. Experts focused more on the potential and need to promote domestic tourism and the impact of building imagination of travelers in social media as the way ahead to deal with this situation.
Every Support is Precious
COVID-19 Pandemic took a toll on the lives of Drivers, Daily wagers, guides and local communities as they are struggling to survive and to protect our environment. There are two foundations to contribute and send all the essential supplies to them.
MP Tiger Foundation Society has helped over 1/4th of frontline staff thanks to your support in this tough situation. But it needs some more support –
A/c Name – MP Tiger Foundation Society
A/c No. – 10571048460
Bank – SBI
IFSC – SBIN0001308
Branch – TT Nagar, Bhopal
Last WIlderness Foundation has been helping forest communities like drivers, daily wagers, tour guides, and everyone whose livelihood was dependent on forest tourism and whose life has been affected due to Coronavirus outbreak. They have been working to protect the wilderness of Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Panna for over a decade.
This time, they need your valuable support in this tough situation. You may help them by donating to their account –
A/c Name – Last Wilderness Foundation
Bank – Axis Bank
A/c No- 912010031503388
Branch – Worli Naka
IFSC Code – UTIB0000653