City Reports

Ranthambore, Sariska Tiger Reserves to remain closed on Wednesdays

Rajasthan's tiger reserves to observe weekly off for conservation. Tourists to be refunded for Wednesday safaris.

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June 17, 2023, 10:52 pm

tiger safari ranthambore file photo

Tiger at Ranthambore National Park. File photo

JAIPUR: The tigers of Rajasthan will be granted a much-needed respite from tourist activities for one day every week.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has issued an order mandating the closure of tiger reserves in the state every Wednesday, effective July 1.

This ruling will apply to prominent reserves such as Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, Sariska Tiger Reserve, Mukundra Tiger Reserve, and Ramgarh Vishdhari Tiger Reserve.

The decision to introduce a weekly off for tigers stems from a proposal made during a meeting held in Delhi on January 3 by Diya Kumari, an member of the NTCA and Member of Parliament (MP).

Diya Kumari emphasized the necessity of providing tigers with a designated day of rest each week. Her proposal garnered widespread support from fellow members, prompting the NTCA to adopt the practice and issue nationwide guidelines for its implementation.

Rajasthan now becomes the sixth state to implement the weekly off in tiger reserves, following West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, and Bihar.

In line with the NTCA’s directive, the Rajasthan forest department has slated June 13 as the commencement date for the weekly off in tiger reserves.

The policy will be enforced in all four reserves across the state starting July 1.

Manish Kumar Garg, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Forest Force Chief in Rajasthan confirmed that the process of implementing the weekly off in tiger reserves is in adherence to the NTCA’s order. The initiative aims to allow tigers a day of respite from tourism-related activities.

Arindam Tomar, the Wildlife Warden of Rajasthan, said that tourists who had previously booked a safari in the tiger reserves for Wednesdays after July 1 will be entitled to a refund. The refund process has already been initiated to ensure travelers are reimbursed accordingly.

Despite the conservation-driven decision, opposition against the closure of tourism activities has arisen within the state’s tiger reserves and sanctuaries.

In Ranthambore, protests have erupted among drivers and individuals associated with the tourism industry, contending that the government should exempt Sawai Madhopur from the weekly off mandate.

A travel agent operating in Ranthambore expressed strong opposition to the government’s decision, deeming it wholly misguided.

He highlighted the fact that Ranthambore already experiences a limited tourist season of only six months, during which the weekly off will now be enforced, posing a significant blow to tourism in the region and the entirety of Rajasthan. Wildlife tourism forms a crucial part of the allure for visitors to Rajasthan.

He further emphasized that those who had made bookings before the implementation announcement would face direct losses, along with travel agents, local hotels, and other traders who rely on tourism.

Diya Kumari, MP from Rajsamand, applauded the NTCA’s guidelines, hailing the weekly off in tiger reserves across the nation as a commendable initiative.

She emphasized that the central government’s decision had been made thoughtfully to safeguard the tigers and other wildlife while preserving the sanctity of the reserves.

The relentless daily safari activities were increasingly burdening wildlife and causing undue distress. Kumari expressed optimism that the government’s measure would alleviate the strain on both wildlife and reserve staff, paving the way for improved conservation efforts.

First published: June 15, 2023