HYDERABAD: Tiger tourism in the country is taking a break. Till October this year, all tiger reserves will remain shut as per order from the National Tiger Conservation Authority. This is due to the possibility of transmission of Covid19 from humans to tigers and other wild animals.
Telangana has two tiger reserves — Amrabad and Kawal — while Andhra Pradesh has one, the Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve.
The instruction from NTCA comes less than a month from the mandatory closure of all tiger reserves in the country for the monsoon season - from July 1 to September 30 with no tourism activities allowed inside the reserves during this period.
Tiger tourism is a money-spinning activity in states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand, bringing in hundreds of crores of rupees each year for the reserves and these states. However, in Telangana's two tiger reserves, tourism activities are rudimentary at best.
On May 1, the Telangana forest department had ordered the closure of all zoos, wildlife sanctuaries and tiger reserves in the state, following instructions from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change on April 30. This was as part of the efforts to stop the spread of Covid19 from humans to wild animals.
Telangana has seven wildlife sanctuaries, three national parks, two tiger reserves and two zoos, one in Hyderabad and the other in Warangal.
In its latest advisory, the NTCA referred to the death of a lion at the Vandalur Zoo in Tamil Nadu from possible Covid19 infection. Several other lions too in the zoo were suspected to have contracted the disease.
"This latest instance of a zoon animal getting infected by Covid19 once again indicates the likelihood of a disease transmission from affected human beings to captive wild animals," the letter said.
It also said: "A similar transmission may also happen in tiger reserves. In view of this, it is once again reiterated that for preventing possible transmission of Covid19 from human beings to wild tigers and other wildlife, all tiger reserves under your jurisdiction need to be closed for tourism activities until further orders."