The Flip Side Of Wildlife Tourism


M PRADYU, Kannur

IN a shocking incident, a young woman lost her life when a wild elephant entered into area of a resort in the forests of Wayanad district of Kerala where tents were erected for tourists to stay. The tragedy occurred in the ruckus and the panic that followed when the pachyderm entered. The young lady was staying in one of the tents of the private resort. Tent tourism is the latest trend in many of the resorts put up near forest areas and of late the thrill, chill and adventure has attracted tour lovers and travellers and tent tourism has soared in the state. But unfortunately many of these resorts seem to be functioning without proper safety measures and all norms that have to be followed are simply ignored. In the case of the resort where the tragedy occurred, there is no fencing nor any safety measure to prevent wild animals entering the zone. The authorities have also noticed that many of these resorts have set up tents close to forest areas without obtaining clearance of the forest department and local bodies. It is a matter of concern that some of the tents erected were in landslide-prone areas. The resort where the mishap occurred has been closed by the local panchayat authorities after it was found to be having no proper licence. State Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran has expressed anguish over the incident and stated that action will be taken against resorts   that do not have licences and flout safety precautions that are very much necessary for adventure tourism. The minister also said that Kerala is the first state in the country to have an adventure tourism guideline and registration and the guideline will soon be released for outdoor stays, including tents, based on this tragic incident. The Adventure Tourism Promotion Society has been instructed to do so and in addition to the existing norms, this guideline will also be mandatory for such activities. Adventure tourism, no doubt attracts the youth and those who love nature and wildlife and it is in fact a big boost to tourism business but it should not be by putting the tourists life at stake.