As India specialists, we offer a wide selection of tours taking travellers from the famous Golden Triangle to the tropical waterways of Kerala. We also offer the chance to spot Bengal tigers, with several of our tours visiting Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan.
Whilst tigers are among our planet’s most iconic animals, they’re classified as endangered due to habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict and other threats. As members of Travel Operators for Tigers (TOFTigers), we’re helping support vital conservation efforts to safeguard the future of these beautiful big cats.
For each client that travels on a wildlife tour in India with us, we pledge a contribution to TOFTigers. Here we take a look at what this organisation has been able to achieve in recent years thanks to our support and that of other green-thinking tour operators.
TOFTigers has helped fund two research projects highlighting the value of nature tourism in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. These have had worldwide coverage, proving just how valuable this industry is to both local communities and wildlife conservation.
Key findings from their 2018 report revealed that the majority of economic benefits from wildlife tourism in Ranthambore National Park stay local, with 70% of those in direct full-time employment being locals from the Sawai Madhopur district.
Furthermore, the report revealed that the tiger population has not been adversely affected by an increase in tourism. Visitor numbers rose from 320,000 in 2016 to 460,000 in 2017. However, tiger numbers also increased from 45 in 2013 to 65 in 2017.
Village Wildlife Guardians
From 2014 to 2018, TOFTigers helped fund a growing network of Village Wildlife Guardians with the conservation charity Tigerwatch. This pioneering project operates around Ranthambore National Park and recruits local villagers to help monitor tiger movements.
Over 50 volunteers are now part of the project. They act as the eyes and ears on the ground to observe wildlife moving in or out of the park. We’re pleased to say, their involvement has been a huge success.
Tigers and other animals have been monitored through the use of camera traps, hundreds of human-wildlife conflicts have been avoided and countless animals have also been saved from traps designed to maim those eating crops or livestock. What’s more, a number of poachers have been caught red-handed.
The project has, in fact, been so successful that the Field Directors want far more guardians. It’s now supported by a host of other funding sources including the government.
New policies and certifications
Alongside India’s Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of Tourism and other travel trade associations, TOFTigers has developed a new ecotourism policy for India. This ensures that ecotourism is encouraged and regulated properly, with the policy awaiting a final sign off by the government.
TOFTigers has also created a certification scheme for wildlife-focused accommodation. These properties are found in or around national parks, sanctuaries or other areas of outstanding natural beauty. It represents the first and highest standard of eco-auditing in South Asia and is also recognised by the UN-backed Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
Over 85 lodges across India and Nepal now have TOFTigers’ PUG certification. So if you’re after eco-friendly accommodation, look for the PUG mark to ensure your stay benefits local communities and wildlife.
Find out more about the other sustainable travel initiatives we’re operating in India and Cambodia.