India's Supreme Court has banned tourism in India's main tiger parks in an attempt to protect the big cat's population numbers. The ruling is currently temporary and applies to 40 parks in India.
India's well-established tiger reserves attract thousands of visitors each year as the country is home to more than half of the world's 3,200 tigers. Tourists are offered extensive facilities and even have the choice to stay in hotels within specialist protected reserves for a fully-fledged tiger watching experience. However, in the future holidaymakers travelling to India will have to settle for other attractions than viewing these black-striped cats, or will find another holiday destination altogether. Wildlife expert and guide with the travel company Exodus, Paul Goldstein, has stated that he has already received cancellations from repeat customers for next year, which suggests that a lack of tigers is enough to deter holiday-goers from booking a break in India.
Even though the law has been put into immediate effect, tiger enclosures do not open in India until October and thus no Britons' immediate holiday plans will have been hindered. A decision as to the longevity of the ban is due to be made on 22 August 2012. Thus far, the ruling has been met by opposition; representatives from the tourist industry claim that the presence of visitors prevents poachers from striking and that holidaymakers' money is critical to fund the protection of tigers. Should such opposition be taken seriously, British travellers may be able to still enjoy a trip with the tigers this season.
The ban is a follow-up of India's Supreme Court's decision made in April to introduce a strict penalty system against states that do not create a buffer zone around tiger habitats; so far six states have been penalised.
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