Nagpur: Waking up to the increasing tourists inflow in the buffer zone disturbing the living pattern of wildlife, specially big cats, the officials at Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) has now barred the visitors to carry mobile phones during safari in both core and buffer areas into the forests. The decision will become effective from December 1, 2018.
However Pench Tiger Reserve and other tiger reserves will not take such a stand for now.
The idea behind banning mobile phones is allegedly to prevent guides, drivers and tourists to share information about tiger sighting that usually results into huge rush at single place. Not only this, the drivers often flaut speed limits as they get information about tiger sighting at particular place in the forest.
Interestingly, the ban came after the videos of a tiger chasing a tourist vehicle in Agarzari buffer and Pandharpaoni tigress Maya and her two cubs being crowded by tourists went viral on social media.
The order to this effect has been issued by TATR field director NR Praveen on Saturday.
Justifying the ban Praveen said that the movement of animals gets badly affected due to mobbing of vehicles at one place which is derogatory to both wildlife and tourists. Also the geo-tagged information and pictures taken over mobiles are circulated across the social media which can be misused and hence the ban. He said that the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) too has issued an advisory to stop the practice.
The field director says many tourists have been seen taking selfies with tigers by going too close to them in the park. “This endangers the lives of tourists. Those found using mobiles inside the park will be shunted out and action will be taken against respective guides and drivers,” said Praveen.
However the wildlife conservationists have not taken the ban with cheers. They have claimed that a couple of incidents cannot be a benchmark to impose such a ban. Tourists are paying throughthe nose and if you don’t allow them to click pictures than it is unjustified. Use of mobiles should be regulated not banned.
Naturalist Himanshu Bagde said that with the ban the risk of mobiles getting misplaced will also increase. Even tourists show their bookings on the mobile which will have then have be surrendered at the gate. He questioned the safety of mobile phones.
The Pench Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra, and other tiger reserves will not enforce TATR decision as of now.