India’s Supreme Court has passed an order banning tourists and commercial activities in tiger parks in an attempt to save the endangered animal, Wall Street Journal reports.
Social and environmental activist Ajay Dubey filed the petition, claiming that tourism disturbs the animals and restricts movement in their natural habitat. “All I want is responsible and accountable tourism,” Mr. Dubey told the Journal.
Subrata Mukherjee of West Bengal’s Sunderbans National Park said: “It is hard to control tourist behavior”.
The number of tigers in India has decreased to around 1,700 – roughly half the world’s tiger population. “Tigers are practically on the verge of extinction,” a Supreme Court judge said. The ruling will be implemented in “core” areas or places with a higher concentration of tigers, according to the Journal.
Some tiger conservationists argued that restricting tourists would do more harm than good. Environmentalists and wildlife reserve officials claimed that “tourists act as watchdogs for mismanagement,” said Balendu Singh, a tiger conservationist associated with Ranthambore National Park, a “core” area. Prominent wildlife conservationist Belinda Wright said that poachers avoid places with high risk of being caught.