Nature & Wildlife

TOFTigers calls for India to spearhead, harness nature tourism

DELHI: TOFTigers, a leading NGO in the wildlife and nature tourism sector issued a call for the nature tourism industry to extend its vital role in protecting India’s natural heritage and re-wildling denuded landscapes, in the wake of a global study revealing that humans have destroyed a tenth of the earth’s wilderness in just 25 years.

This was announced during the TOFTigers Awards at the British High Commissioner’s residence recently in Delhi, to recognize the very best companies, parks and individuals including tour operators, eco lodges, naturalists and wildlife guides using nature tourism as a wildlife restoration, educational and protection tool, reports Business Standard.
India is one of the world’s most bio-diverse countries, its forests and ecosystems providing vital natural services from clean air and water to flood prevention and soil fertility as well as high economic returns from recreation and tourism, one of the government’s key growth industries.

Yet the power of well-planned sustainable nature tourism remains badly understood and planned for by Government and industry, and viewed with suspicion by some of the conservation sector.

A WWF and Cambridge University study recently concluded that for every 1 rupee invested in conservation today, 67 rupees is being returned economically – an astounding return on ‘conservation investment’.

“TOFTigers’ vision is to catalyse a new movement of support for nature conservation, local rural communities and re-wilding through the power of well-run nature tourism – particularly relevant as next year is the United Nations’ Year of Sustainable Tourism.” says Julian Matthews, Founder Chairman of nature tourism action charity, TOFTigers.

“Governments should think ‘Smart Forests’ like we have ‘Smart cities’ in India with really targeted investment in protecting wild landscapes, in the people surrounding them, and the corridors that connect them. Allowing citizens to enjoy them in a sustainable way brings benefits to local communities and reaps extraordinary ecological and economic returns that far outweigh the costs. We’re hoping the Awards will inspire a new era of cooperation between the tourism industry, NGOs and government across the country.”

Winners and Runners Up at the TOFTigers Awards

The Billy Arjan Singh Memorial Award for Wildlife Guide of the Year 2016
Winner: Radhika Prasad Omre from Madla, Panna Tiger Reserve
Runner up: Vinod Gulab Uike – Tadoba Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra

Lodge Naturalist of the Year 2016
Winner: Dhan Bahadur Tamang, Tiger Tops, Chitwan in Nepal Joint
Runners up: Surya Ramachandran, Singinawa Jungle Lodge, Kanha & Mittal Gala – Khem Vilas, Ranthambhore

Dr Chuck McDougal Visitor Friendly Wildlife Destination of the Year 2016
Joint winners: Chitwan National Park in Nepal and Pench Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra
Runner up: Kali Tiger Reserve, Karnataka

Wildlife and Tourism Initiative of the Year 2016
Winner: Jabarkhet Nature Reserve in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand
Runner up: Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park, Jodhpur, Rajasthan

Wildlife Tourism Related Community Initiative of the Year 2016
Winner: Pakke Jungle Camp with Help Tourism in Arunachal Pradesh
Runner up: Flame of the Forest – Women’s health care project in Kanha, MP

International Wildlife Tour Operator of the Year 2016
Winner: Exodus Travel from London, United Kingdom
Runner up: On the Go Tours, United Kingdom

Wildlife Promotion Company of the Year 2016
Winner: Abercrombie & Kent India
Runner up: Travel Inn, New Delhi

Up and Coming Excellence in Nature Award 2016
Winner: Mela Kothi, The Chambal Safari Lodge, Chambal, Uttar Pradesh
Runner up: Red Earth, Kabini, Karnataka

The John Wakefield Memorial Award for Most Inspirational Eco Lodge of the Year 2016
Joint winners: Reni Pani Jungle Lodge, Satpura Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh and Singinawa Jungle Lodge, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
Runner up: Kanha Earth Lodge, Kanha, Madhya Pradesh

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