BENGALURU: Wildlife enthusiasts and photographers have decided to boycott safaris in the state after the Karnataka Forest Department revised tariffs in all national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. They also submitted a memorandum to the principal chief conservator of forests, wildlife, and to the chief conservator of forests, Mysuru, seeking a reduction in tariffs. Members of Karnataka Photographers United Movement have launched an online petition, urging the state government to step in.
Rahul Taranath, a wildlife enthusiast, said when they met the PCCF on Monday, the officials said the tariff was hiked as the crowds to these places had increased. Many regular visitors are finding it difficult to go due to the revised tariffs. “Now, it costs Rs 600 for the safari and Rs 1,500 for the camera lens. Camera charges should be a part of the safari,” he said.
Amal George, a wildlife photographer said, “Over 5,000 people have already signed the petition online. Nowhere in India are safaris and camera charges separate.” Citing the example of Pench National Park in Madhya Pradesh, he said, “A person would spend Rs 15,000 for two nights and four safaris. But in Kabini, a person can stay only for a night and two safaris at that rate.” He said they will meet Forest Minister Arvind Limbavali and submit a memorandum, asking him to look into the issue.
Photographers and wildlife enthusiasts said the rates should not be doubled, making recreational activities out of bounds for common people. They said that in today’s era, everyone has a camera and everyone visits the forest to take the best pictures. “The camera charges would only deter people from going and this will harm conservation efforts too,” they said.
APCCF Wildlife Subhash Malkhade said, “Photographers and other wildlife enthusiasts met the PCCF, wildlife, and submitted a memorandum. The PCCF has assured them that he will look into the issue. The decision was taken after discussing the same with field staffers. We will take a decision on changing the tariffs after discussing with them as well.”