29 june:Wildlife tourism is slowly gaining popularity in Kerala and many tourists, especially foreigners, are increasingly enthusiastic about spending time in the wild.Many wildlife enthusiasts keep coming back for these special interest tours again and again.
Though only five per cent of the total tourists visiting Kerala are interested in wildlife tourism, their numbers are growing, say wildlife tour operators.
The tourists have six options to choose from Silent Valley National Park, Chimmony Wildlife Sanctuary, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Peechi Wildlife Sanctuary, Thattekad Wildlife Sanctuary and Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR), CEO of Wild Kerala Tour company K G Pramod said.
With the help of local communities and forest department, the company has created well-planned wilderness experiences that introduces a small group of travellers to new environment with minimum impact on the environment, he told a news agency.
People of all age groups, especially in the 35-70 age group take the tours, he said.The bookings are made with the help of the forest department which in turn informs the local forest office and the local eco-development communities.
The tribal youth and local communities were also involved, he said.The Chimmony sanctuary has incredible bird, butterfly and animal diversity and is considered to be one of Kerala’s best stretches of deciduous forests.
Eco guides from the indigenous Malaya community showing the common medicinal herbs used by them.The tourists can feast their eyes on the floral diversity, take a dip in the crystal clear waters of mountain streams.
In the Peechi Wildlife sanctuary, the camp is amidst the jungle and the forest department provides an armed park guard with communication equipment for safety of tourists.
The Silent Valley National Park in Palakkad District has large populations of lion tailed macaques, a highly endangered species.In Chinnar sanctuary, the dry deciduous forest makes it easier to view wildlife. Herds of Asiatic elephants, gaur, spotted deer, tiger and the elusive leopard can be spotted in Kochi.
A tour in Kochi also takes the tourists through a site where the stone age people once built their burial chambers known as "Dolmens".A visit to a tribal settlement gives a picture of the lifestyle and culture of the local indigenous community in Kochi, Pramod said.
The Thattekad bird sanctuary in Idukki District is home to at least 253 species of birds, according to a Bombay Natural History Society survey.
"Our programmes help in conserving the ecosystems where we operate. We keep apart five per cent of our turnover for conservation initiatives," Pramod said.
The local youth are being trained in trekking and hospitality. In Chimmony, around 20 youth had been trained.While the business volume for such special tourism is not currently very high, wildlife tourism as such has started picking up, he added.
About 10 to 15 years ago hardly any tourist used to enquire about wildlife tourism, but now the interest is picking up.Within the next three to four years, there is potential for good growth, he said.
courtsey : dd news