BENGALURU: The Karnataka forest department’s decision to sharply raise tariffs for wildlife safaris in tiger reserves, national parks and sanctuaries, has drawn criticism from all quarters. Memes, messages, photographs and jokes are doing the rounds on social media, leaving officials red-faced. Kabini, in Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, came in for the biggest hits as it’s considered the stomping ground of the rich and elite, who get the best frames of animals in their natural habitat. But now, even this section of society is wondering if a Kabini trip is affordable, and whether they can visit as often as they did.
Some popular memes include one of a man standing in his underwear at the billing counter, making his payment after visiting Kabini. Another is of a scene recreated from Bollywood movie Hera Pheri, where actors Akshay Kumar and Suniel Shetty, acting as forest officials, are discussing: “Arre, kitna paise hai re uske paas (how much money this man has)!!”
The tariff has been revised after four years, with the last revision in 2017-18, when rates were hiked uniformly across all forest areas. This time, the tariff is different for each forest patch. While forest officials defended the decision, saying it will restrict footfall, photographers and visitors say it is a method to make profits as parks and sanctuaries were closed last year. Some pointed out: “Now a safari with family will remain a dream for a common person.
We will have to show children photographs clicked and posted on social media by the rich and influential,” they said. Photographers mocked that they will have to keep their high-end lenses and cameras at home, and use mobile phones with high-resolution cameras.