BENGALURU: For anyone looking for a quick getaway from the city, there’s a range of eco-tourism spots in the state. But the promotion of eco-tourism has come at a cost to wildlife and forest cover.
Sunday’s incident where a group of 12 killed two Sambar deer in Tanegebailu Wildlife Range in the Bhadra Tiger Reserve shows the lack of monitoring in forests and how the number of people entering protected forests are increasing by the day.
A local who supports wildlife activists in the Bhadra Tiger Reserve said, “Killing of wild animals is not new here. This incident came to light as the accused were caught red-handed. Locals who keep track of animals round-the-year take tourists to core habitat zones for a paltry sum and alcohol.”
Another local said, “After the promotion of eco-tourism, the tourist numbers have massively increased and forest covers are shrinking with plastic bottles and trash littered everywhere. Camp fires and alcohol consumption inside the forest have become a common phenomenon.”
A forest official said, “Earlier, it was local coffee planters who would go on ‘shikari’, but the numbers were small. Now, several tourists from cities visit the forests and sometimes hunt animals. With the existing number of forest officials here, it is impossible to guard the forests from these invaders.”
Veeresh, a wildlife activist in the region, said, “For the past five years, there have been several incidents of tourists creating havoc in the forest region. Mullayyanagiri and Bababudangiri have lost their charm as tourists have invaded wildlife habitats. Nobody keeps track of tourists.”
Shiva Shankar, trustee of People Tree organisation in Mysuru that organises treks, said, “There should be rules which stipulate that entry into forests is allowed only with permission from forest department. It would be better if forest guards accompanied trekkers. People should be educated that we exist because of nature and we should respect it.”