Monday, July 19, 2010

Kerala Wildlife Tourism

Kerala is India’s prime holiday destination. World famous has God’s own country the state offers much to holiday makers, The state has finest beach resorts and backwater canals that offer boating pleasure in house boats through vast stretch of cool blue waters.

The most popular forest types in Kerala are wet evergreen rain forests and highland deciduous. In the far recess of the state there are India’s finest forests the Western Ghats and Nilgiris. The Nilgiri forests or biosphere reserve at Nilgiri Plateau are well known for endemic mammals and birds found only here. Lion tailed macaque; Nilgiri langur and Nilgiri Tahr are found in these forests now protected by law. The protected area is known as Salim Ali Wildlife Sanctuary.

The best place to see the tiger in Kerala is the Periyar Tiger Reserve and Wynad Tiger Reserve. Home to many wild animals the parks are famous for tiger, leopards, bison and Indian wild Elephant. Similarly Western Ghats are home to large number of wild elephants and rare endemic birds. 

Other protected areas are Mudumalai National Park, Bandipur National Park, Nagarhole National Park, Mukurthi National Park and Silent Valley National Park. The major faunal elements are tiger, leopard, tahr, elephant, giant squirrel, flying squirrel, wild dogs, wild boar, sloth bear, bison and many dear species. 

There are number of bird species in the small state at wetlands and wet evergreen rainforests of Western Ghats and National Parks. Among the noted wetlands are Lake Sasthamkotta and Vembanad-Kol.

The major bird sanctuaries in the state are:

Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary at Periyar River noted for the Ceylon frogmouth, Malabar trogon, Nilgiri Wren warbler and rose-billed roller.

The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary home to many migratory birds and wild duck.

Interesting birds found in the state are fairy blue-bird, orange minivet, Eurasian king fisher, Rufous bellied eagle, Amur falcon, Nilgiri wood pigeon, Indian hanging parrot, blue-winged parakeet, red-winged crested cuckoo, small green billed malkoha, sirkeer malkoha, red-faced malkoha, Oriental bay owl, Malabar grey hornbill, Nilgiri pipit, grey-headed bulbul, white-bellied short wing, Wynaad laughing thrush, Nilgiri laughing thrush, grey-breasted laughing thrush, Indian rufous babbler, broad-tailed grass bird, black-and-orange flycatcher, verditer flycatcher, Nilgiri flycatcher, white-bellied blue flycatcher, small sunbird, Loten's sunbird, white-bellied treepie and Syke's jungle crow.

Most of the birds named above are endemic. Many are rare and have limited geographical distribution. 

There are bewildering species of snakes and reptilians found in Kerala. King Cobra and spectacled cobra are found besides many other species.

A large number of tourists come for wildlife tours in Kerala state of India. The main attractions are the Indian elephant, gaur and the tiger. Kerala tour organizers offer wildlife safaris  combined with birding packages in Munnar, Thattekkad and Western Ghats. While Periyar and Western Ghats are most visited, tourism is substantial in other National Parks as well. 

The peak wildlife tourism season is during the holidays and winters. The weather is comfortable and movement is unobstructed by the rains.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Relocation: Kanha Villages

The center of attraction Kanha Tiger Reserves was once integral part of Kanha preserve. Due to requirement of inviolate space for endangered species and to reduce biotic pressure, relocation of villages became an imperative.

The spaces for agricultural land, live stock grazing pressure, firewood collection all were taking a heavy toll on the ecosystem. A badly shrunk and degraded ecosystem, could not afford such biotic pressure and destructive practices. The presence of human habitation was endangering wildlife. The animals like tigers and swamp deer were most affected since the latter was totally dependent upon swampy grasslands which were severely encroached.  

Most of the tribal in Kanha are Baigas, Gonds and others of various denominations. The relocation created lots of resentment among some. Apart from compensation the villagers benefit from joining the mainstream and eco development programs.

Responsible Tourism has been the largest beneficiary Vis a Vis employment and development in terms of skills and abilities. The remote settlements inside the habitation did not yield such bounties.     

The tribal till this date are able to practice their customary rites and rituals besides ingraining mainstream benefits like better education and health care facilities and ample job opportunities. 

The biggest benefit has arisen from the forest department which employs large number of local guides and laborers. The administration has employed many tribal in administrative task as well. It eco development program has benefited local communities.

The increasing number eco resorts in Kanha National Park and hotels follow responsible practices. A large number of local are employed in hotels in the periphery. The responsible tourism guide lines favor employment for local communities. These tribal communities have been part of heritage sites since centuries.  

Where ever proper compensatory schemes have been introduced the local communities in protected areas have benefited.  The State government is taking all positive steps to increase inviolate areas in Kanha. There are lots of programs that seek to benefit the poor and down trodden.

The tourism industry too should take active interest in responsible practice which will be a big step forward in conserving this heritage wealth.