Haryana plans to develop a 10,000-acre jungle safari park, raising environmental concerns

The Haryana state government on Thursday announced plans to develop a 10,000-acre Jungle Safari park in the state, The Guardian reported. Press Trust of India. The park, slated for the Aravalli Range in the state’s Gurugram and Nuh areas, will become the largest wildlife safari out of Africa upon completion. The safari park will be a joint project between the Government of Haryana and the Union Ministry of Forests, Environment and Climate Change. But this move represents the problem at the heart of ecotourism.

In its statement, the government announced big plans to include a grassy pasture, a bird sanctuary, four areas for big cats, areas designated for exotic birds and animals, and many other attractions. However, while on the one hand, the government is promoting this step as a major step for biodiversity conservation, on the other hand, ecologists have already expressed concern about this step.

In a letter to the government, they indicated that the land chosen for the project is located within forest lands where construction activities are illegal. Moreover, the letter also states that the government tender for the project calls for companies to build hotels, restaurants, children’s parks, cable cars, outdoor theaters and other tourist establishments that could harm the biodiversity of the area.

In the past few decades, ecotourism or ecotourism has proliferated as a modern alternative to traditional tourism. Destinations with rich biodiversity and ecosystems are grouped as tourist destinations to attract revenue from tourism. Frequently highlighted benefits of ecotourism include its supposed role in promoting wildlife conservation through revenue generation and awareness raising. However, in recent years, ecotourism has been criticized as just another form of traditional tourism, as opposed to a radically different alternative. Private companies have hijacked the original purposes of ecotourism to develop it as an industry, and have done even greater harm to the environment. First, attracting international tourists for revenue depends largely on air travel, which is responsible for a large part of environmental pollution. But there are also other, deeper issues.

For example, a recent World Animal Protection report noted that animal abuse occurs in nearly 75% of the world’s wildlife attractions. The report stated: “…violations include taking them from their mothers at a very young age, being beaten and hurt so that they can be trained to ride a horse…”. The development of wildlife and ecotourism into a large-scale industry has resulted in legions of tourists amassing natural wildlife habitats, invading its space and privacy to take selfies, manipulating sensitive species for a ‘nature experience’, and engaging them in tricks, games and sports for entertainment – They all represent a human-centered approach to nature.

But these activities have a direct impact on human and animal health. For example, a fifteen-month study in South Africa in 2019 concluded that safari tourists are directly responsible for the deteriorating health of elephants in the country, making them violent – ​​ultimately resulting in more human casualties and deaths caused by trampling elephants. on her.

Related to swaddle:

Haryana’s deforested Aravallis, thought to be an ‘ecological desert’, is still home to plenty of wildlife: report

There are also other health issues that may arise from mass ecotourism. In an interview with Washington Post, environmental anthropologist Michael Mullenbein describes how close contact with humans can lead to life-threatening diseases among animals. “A cold for us is mild. A cold for a monkey is life-threatening. Measles, chickenpox: a threat to life in these animals … A cold sore from humans can kill apes. It can wipe out large parts of the population. There are risks,” Mullenbein noted. Others as well, including “Possible introduction of invasive species…general degradation of the environment…waste disposal problems.”

Ecotourism as a capitalist industrial enterprise is also responsible for the mass evictions of indigenous people from their lands which are then redirected by non-native businesses to develop parks, hotels, restaurants and other tourist facilities designed for the wealthy. Traditional ideas of nature conservation separate the lives of indigenous peoples from the life of the wildlife that coexists with them. This goes against the idea of ​​treating forests and ecosystems as ecological commons.

Then, displaced indigenous peoples are often left with little or no compensation, and forced to start their lives anew, separated from their roots and culture. The 2018 India Housing and Land Rights Network report notes that “in the majority of reported evictions, state authorities did not follow the due process established by national and international standards…All forced evictions resulted in multiple and often grave human rights violations. “

Of course, this does not mean that ecotourism is completely meaningless. In fact, countries like Uganda have tried to take indigenous peoples into trust in their conservation projects. Being sensitive to wildlife and focusing on its comfort, while ensuring that tourism takes place from a reasonable distance, may be other ways in which ecotourism can be really beneficial to the environment.

However, recent trends in ecotourism in India have seldom aroused confidence in the protection of indigenous rights and conservation of protected areas. For example, the government’s drive to push “Maldives-style” ecotourism projects in Lakshadweep is expected to cause a mass exodus of both human and animal species. The Haryana Safari project, in this light, could cause major environmental disruptions.

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