Tiger Safari in Times of Corona

by pateluday

Deadly coronavirus a zoonotic pathogen that originated in the wet market of China is now at a pandemic stage. Among the activities that have come to halt is tiger tourism in India

Tiger Tourism in India is a major industry and is poised to grow by leaps and bounds in time to come. As of now, it is one of the most affected industries during the period of lockdown the business prospects have dimmed tremendously. Already reeling under an economic meltdown the tourism industry as a whole is virtually bankrupt with flights canceled and occupancy to near zero. Coronavirus has wreaked havoc everywhere.

People who earn on day to day basis are the guides, jeep drivers, small-time retailers, and the hotel staff. These are without income and are waiting for the parks to open post lockdown. The lockdown is a necessary step to halt the spread of the pandemic.

Tiger Safari

Tiger Safari
Tiger Safari
Courtyard House

Tiger Reserves under Sieze

Virus Epidemic

Albeit it all started during the months of October last year in Wuhan in China people everywhere were taking stock of the situation as remote observers. The limit was supposed to be contained till China and there was no need to worry hence the topic centered around the Chinese wet markets and the eating habits of people there and in some more South East Asian Countries.  

For lot many, zoonotic disease was a first-time reckoning and a new fact that emerged. As months proceeded the death toll at the place of origin began to increase day by day and still, the fatal spread seemed distant. 

For many unfortunate, it took a long time to come to the realization that death would soon be knocking at their doorsteps. And so it happened, the sporadic instances of appearance usually at the behest of travelers to affected destination began to proliferate.   

Then it did not take long to realize the extent of damage the virus was causing...and eventually WHO declared it as a pandemic. This was the last straw. The International flights began to be affected and then the inland one as well. The Indian Government stopped issuing visas as a precaution from 13 March onward.  

 

Tigers

Bengal Tiger Photo
Tigers
Tigers
Courtyard House

Tiger Reserves And Pandemic

End of Tourism

This was the period whence maximum overseas tourists arrive and the locals' free-of-exam burden also begin to flock around the reserve. This is the time whence the tourism industry specifically the tiger tourism industry which comprises tour operators, hoteliers or wildlife resort owners, tiger safari organizers, birding tour organizers, local travel agents, destination management companies and all those associated make a major portion of  share in income. 

The pandemic was a disaster in making the realization has begun to dawn but the final nail in the coffin was the ban on visas. No, wait! The lockdown that followed post 22nd March acted as a death knell. 

Then eventually tiger reserves were closed all of them! And all activities came to halt, the day-to-day earners now relied upon their savings and alternate sources of income. Post 22nd March the whole country came to a standstill as a twenty-one-day lockdown was announced by the Central Government. An imperative!

Wildlife

Deer
Kanha National Park Wildlife
Kanha National Park Wildlife
Uday Patel

Lockdown Aftermath

Post Lockdown Period and Future

India was fortunate that the impact has not been as severe as many unfortunate Nations. As of today, the number of infected people is 4000 plus with 100 plus deaths. But in many places, the rise in case of infection is alarming and could wreak havoc. 

The lockdown has worked in containing the pandemic it seems, and many places in such a large and diverse country have been unaffected.  The twenty-one-day period will come to end on 14th April but this would a staggered closure and many towns and cities affected substantially would remain under lockdown till situated improves. 

But nevertheless, International Flights will begin to operate and so will the inland flights. The railways will begin operating in a staggered manner as well. 

This means tourism will continue albeit at a reduced level. In time to come the industry, the people, and the establishment will learn to conduct themselves in a safe manner and move on.  

Economic activities cannot come to a halt for a prolonged period. The World must move on and so the people. There is no metric to gauge the future and the disease has come to stay. Hope the pandemic is contained mitigated like many of its predecessors. 

We have to overcome the economic meltdown especially in developing countries like India it would spell disaster.  

Courtyard House Kanha

Luxury Wildlife Resort
Courtyard House Kanha
Courtyard House Kanha
Uday Patel

Tiger Safaris

A Paradigm Shift

Even if the parks open, and in near future, there would be tourists, the tiger safaris would operate in a much-changed manner. 

First priority should be rigorous testing of all inbound and locals for the presence of the infection. All those involved in tiger tourism should have been tested and those infected should be quarantined for a long. This mechanism of testing appropriately should be available at all junctures. Rigorous testing at airports and railheads is a must. Even all workers in the reserves, the guides, naturalists, jeep drivers, the hotel staff all should be tested on regular basis.   

Till the disease is completely overcome canter safaris should not be allowed to be conducted. Only private jeep safaris should be allowed in but in limited numbers for the time being. Crowding around the gate office should be prevented and permits should be issued online. 

The authorities must come up with solutions that prevent contact between strangers like the social distancing in effect. The spread of the disease needs a preventive approach till the last case is closed in India and probably elsewhere. 

Greet Your Guests With a Silent Namaste!

Not only during the safaris the wildlife resorts too should follow safety guidelines as mentioned above. The whole property should be sanitized from time to time.  In fact, responsible hotels and resorts could be more efficient in implementing methods for the prevention of infection from coronavirus. Now is the time to encourage small properties!    

Why this article? Well, the economic activities have to go on as our fight to stem the rot continues. If the whole industry World over emulates safety norms set by one and another the aftermath will be good. 

Tiger Safari

Updated: 07/12/2021, pateluday
 
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pateluday on 07/10/2021

The big cats in the zoo reported incidences of coronavirus infection in Gujarat and Southern India.. Fortunately, it has not reached the tiger reserves yet. Precautions are being taken by sanitization and maintaining vehicular distance for them.

DerdriuMarriner on 07/09/2021

pateluday, It's good news that tiger conservation suffered no setbacks because of vigilant guards.
During the lockdown, online news noted, without follow-ups, that a cat in the United Kingdom received a corona-virus diagnosis. Were any tigers in the subcontinental reserves ever found to suffer from COVID-19?

pateluday on 11/13/2020

No it did not affect tiger conservation as guards were active but poachers are always looking for openings.

DerdriuMarriner on 11/12/2020

pateluday, Thank you for the practical information and the pretty pictures.
Did the shutdown affect the care and security of the tiger reserves?

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