KARNATAKA

Illegal tourism puts lives at risk in Bandipur

AT PERIL:Tourists sauntering inside the Bandipur National Park putting both man and beast at risk.

AT PERIL:Tourists sauntering inside the Bandipur National Park putting both man and beast at risk.  

R. Krishna Kumar

Tour operators from Kerala enter core area of national park furtively

MYSORE: The wildlife habitat and core forest area of the Bandipur National Park is frequently swamped with private tour operators entering the national park illegally from Kerala. They put the lives of tourists at risk and also disturb the animals.

A senior conservationist working with the Forest Department in the national park told The Hindu that tourist vehicles come from Kalavalli, Anakundu and the Sasimala side of Kerala and enter the Gundre and Begur forests inside Bandipur. Their passage is assisted by a bridge across the Kapila, which connects the two States.

However, no tour operator has the jurisdiction to operate in the core area of the national park, and even the popular safari conducted by the Karnataka Forest Department is permitted only within the tourism zone. Entry to the Bandipur National Park is only through the tourism zone located on the highway connecting Mysore and Ooty. The rest of the park is out of bounds for visitors under Section 27 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Hari Somashekar of Wildlife Matters said that when there was large-scale congregation of wild animals near the Kabini backwaters during summer, tour operators from Kerala bring in multitudes of tourists who enter the Gundre and Begur forest region of Karnataka, which is closeto the border.

Action ordered

When contacted, Hanumanthappa, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Bandipur Project Tiger Reserve, said the issue was also brought to his notice and he had instructed the range officers to take strict action. However, he said illegal entry of tourists was not a regular feature, but it was unacceptable as the Gundre-Begur forests constituted the core area of Bandipur.

Though the Bandipur National Park is 990 sq. km, tourism activity is restricted to within a radius of 32 sq. km around the main reception centre.

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