Sustainable Green Religious Tourism, Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve: An emerging model with multi-stakeholder engagement

Soubadra Devy, M and Rattan, Sanjay and Ganesh, T and Prashanth, MB and Jesudasan, Allwin and Goswami, Rajkamal (2015) Sustainable Green Religious Tourism, Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve: An emerging model with multi-stakeholder engagement. Project Report. ATREE, Bangalore. (Submitted)

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Abstract

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) which oversees the Tiger reserve network in the country has clearly articulated guidelines for regulated tourism of wildlife , especially related to the impact on tiger populations that adheres to the carrying capacity of the Tiger reserve. Guidelines on management and regulation of pilgrimages by religious tourists to temples within such reserves have not received proper attention in the past. Active pilgrimage sites are found in a number of Tiger reserves, the most notable being the Lord Ayyappa temple in Periyar Tiger Reserve. NTCA Guidelines indicate every Tiger reserve to draw a plan of action to manage and regulate religious tourism within 3 years of notification of the NTCA guidelines. Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve in the State of Rajasthan, has an ancient Trinethra Ganesha temple which is visited regularly i.e., daily, weekly, monthly and during the annual Ganesh Chaturthi festival by local, regional and national pilgrims. It is estimated to attract not less 8-10 lakh people annually2. A project to meet the clause on Religious tourism indicated by NTCA guidelines was perceived and jointly implemented by ATREE and ARC in association with the Forest Department for Ranthambhore Tiger reserve along with local conservation and community NGO partners, -Tiger Watch and Prakratik Society. The model comprised co-management of regulating the festival impact. It involved multiple stakeholders including the Forest department (assisted by local district administration, wherever necessary), Trinethra Ganesh Temple Trust, Conservation organizations such as Tiger Watch, World Wildlife Fund, Ranthambhore Foundation and community NGOs under the flagship of Prakratik Society, namely Bhu Premi Parivaar, Kids for Tigers, Ranthambhore Art & Wildlife Conservation Society (RAWCS), Dalit Vikas Sahayata Samithi, etc. (see Appendix-2 for list of participating stakeholders). The Outreach component had some of these multiple stakeholders formulating various components of a Green Ganesha-Clean Ganesha (GG-CG) campaign to target various audiences. A popular theme song of the campaign announcing the ban on plastics and associated penalty was composed in the local dialect; a mobile tableau with the theme song, banners, posters and pamphlets espousing religious beliefs supporting nature conservation spread the message in Sawai Madhopur town and many nearby villages. Awareness and education banners, posters, signature campaigns, appeals by the Temple trust, talks with educational institutions/community organizations were undertaken a month prior to the festival. A major intervention component this year was frisking and replacement of polythene bags by cloth bags, by community volunteers with the help from the Ranthambhore Forest Department. The cloth bags were tailored by under privileged women groups which emerged as a social spin off to the entire effort. The model had a monitoring component of which assessment of pilgrim flow, garbage generation, pre and post festival impact on water quality tests of water bodies and road kills was a part. Social surveys of pilgrim perception and attitude to assess their willingness to reduce impact was done prior to, during and post-festival. Use of religious beliefs supporting conservation was also assessed. The project effectively brought conservation groups, community groups and religious institutions together. More engagement by the District Administration and Panchayats in this program can further reduce the negative environment impacts drastically. Additionally, monitoring should extend to biodiversity aspects in the pilgrimage area related to the flora, fauna and their ecosystems, to serve as an important feedback for further action/intervention by forest managers. Community outreach can also be fined tuned as many "place of origin of pilgrims' (see Appendix 6 and 7) have been identified through surveys. We propose this effort to become a part of the annual management plan of forest department to be implemented every year.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Subjects: A ATREE Publications > F ATREE Project Reports
Divisions: ATREE Publications > ATREE Project Reports
Depositing User: Eprints Admin
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2015 08:49
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2016 07:05
URI: http://eprints.atree.org/id/eprint/54

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