Preserving nature in all its diversity with minimum disturbance by human activities and protecting endangered species like tiger and elephant is indeed a challenging task. A lot more effort goes into protecting unique landscapes like Corbett than most people think. A limited staff of 400-odd permanent employees assisted by a temporary force of labourers works under tough conditions throughout the year to achieve this goal. Management involves many concurrent activities that keep the Corbett staff more than occupied throughout the year.
In addition to their management responsibilities the forest staff also looks after wildlife tourism. The department maintains various facilities and services for the 70,000-odd visitors that come to Corbett every year. Regulated tourism in Corbett Tiger Reserve gives visitors a chance to view wild animals in their natural environment and experience the beauty of Nature. This is the only way to help people from all walks of life appreciate the true value of wildlife preservation.
Most people consider ecotourism to be synonymous to tourism in natural areas. But there is more to ecotourism than this. In addition to responsible travel to natural areas that is sensitive to environmental concerns, true ecotourism should also sustain the livelihoods and cultural identities of local communities.
Ecotourism is an important tool for conservation because it generates economic benefits for the authorities managing the protected area as well as local people who get employment. This instils a sense of pride in the local people who now appreciate the value of their natural and cultural heritage. Ecotourism also influences visitors by providing an opportunity for a better, more educative experience, thus sensitising them towards conservation.
Tourism, Jim Corbett National Park The importance of ecotourism is gradually being realised in developing countries like India that have great natural wealth. The concept has much more potential in states such as Uttaranchal that have substantial areas under forests. Recently, there have been attempts in India to institutionalise ecotourism and various state governments have announced or are in the process of formulating ecotourism policies. There have been several community-based initiatives in this direction in Uttaranchal, Sikkim, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh and in the near future other states are expected to follow.
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