In a good news for tourists, the Jim Corbett National Park and the Rajaji Tiger Reserve will now remain open all year round. Earlier, both the parks, which are famous for tigers, leopards, deers, elephants and other wildlife animals, used to shut for five months during the monsoon period. The national parks did not welcome tourists from June 15 to November 15 every year. The new decision was taken after a meeting of Forest Minister Harak Singh Rawat with officials.
The Uttarakhand government has taken the decision to boost the tourism sector in the state which is one of the major attractions in the country. Both the national parks have registered an uptick in the number of visitors in recent years, however, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the authorities to shut gates for tourists.
The decision will also help thousands of people who are dependent on the national parks for their livelihood, and the closure for most parts from March 2020 also left them high and dry.
There is no doubt that the successive lockdowns hampered the financial prospects of Jim Corbett National Park and Rajaji Tiger Reserve. A look at the lockdown year income reveals how the new decision could benefit everyone.
According to government figures, 2.04 lakh tourists, including 377 foreigners, visited the Jim Corbett National Park between April 2020 and March 2021. The wildlife park raked in more than Rs 8 crore from these tourists. The figure does not include the indirect spending of visitors such as on lodging, food and other expenses. The lockdown figures indicate the massive tourism potential of the park. Similarly, the Rajaji Tiger Reserve saw around 12,800 visitors, including 23 foreigners, in the same period. The park administration earned Rs 23 lakh from them.
However, there are questions on the feasibility of opening the parks for all 12 months. During the monsoon season, the rivers inside the reserves swell leading to flooding of the jungle safari road. Experts say the monsoon time is a breeding period for most of the animals, and any disturbance could lead to wildlife-human conflict.