Officers from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), who are training nearly 30 forest officials at the Rajiv Gandhi National Park (Nagarhole National Park), have elicited opinions from representatives of village eco-development committees (EDCs) located in and around the national park on formulating a comprehensive participatory management plan to protect, conserve and manage the park for the next 10 years. P.K. Mathur and B.K. Uniyal, senior faculty members of the WII, Dehradun, who are part of the team, met over 60 members recently, including presidents of the EDCs and representatives of non-governmental organisations, apart from officials of the Department of Forests, in this regard, sources said on Tuesday. Deputy Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Hunsur Vijayranjan Singh confirmed the visit .

Zoning of the protected areas (PA) and buffer zone management, participation by residents of fringe villages in the PA management, roles and responsibilities of the tribal communities in PA management in the national park, rehabilitation of the tribal people, assessment of the promises made to the residents of fringe villages and tribal people by the governments, were discussed at the meet, sources said.

Tourism zones

The issue of extending tourism activities from the Nagarhole range of the Rajiv Gandhi National Park and Kharapura (D.B. Kuppe) areas to the nearby Veeranahosalli and Murkal areas was proposed by M.B. Prabhu, who heads the Indian Institute of Tribal Education, and Akjjikuttira Suraj, who represents the Nagarahole Foundation, both NGOs.

The WII officials invited suggestions in this regard from members of the EDCs who had come from Mathigodu, Metikuppe, Veeranahosalli and Kallalla ranges of the national park, Mr. Prabhu said. The basic idea of extending the tourism zones is to reduce the pressure of tourists on the two spots, which have remained active tourist spots since the last 30 years, Mr. Prabhu said.

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