Should Tiger Habitats be Privatised for Tourism?

The Discussion Map charts important debates from the pages of the EPW. 


Is there an effective blueprint to conserve tiger habitats? 

In Ajay Dubey v National Tiger Conservation Authority (2012), the Supreme Court directed states to create “buffer zones” around critical tiger habitats. These zones would be areas where wildlife tourism would be prohibited. This move triggered a debate by conservationists—some argued for a complete ban on tourism, while others advocated for regulation, claiming that economic development of the surrounding agricultural land was the only feasible way to save tigers. 

K Ullas Karanth and Krithi K Karanth initiate the discussion with their proposal of the Tiger Habitat Expansion Model (THEM). They argue for expanding tiger habitats by acquiring private agricultural land surrounding tiger reserves. 

In response, Nitin Rai accuses Karanth and Karanth of advocating “green grabbing,” a system whereby private agricultural land is appropriated for environmental ends. The author argues that humans and tigers can coexist, and that the primary reason for habitat loss is industrial expansion. 

Divya Vasudev and Varun R Goswami say that Rai derives a flawed conclusion from conservation studies. They argue that context will necessitate a choice between conservation and development, and that the ideal method would be to marry an inclusionary and a protectionist approach.  

Click on the icons to read excerpts from the articles.

A few other works that have broadly responded to or are related to this discussion:

  1. The Great Indian Tiger Show by C R Bijoy, 2011.

  2. India’s Tiger Counts: The Long March to Reliable Science by K Ullas KAranth, 2011.

  3. Crouching Tiger, India’s Forests by Priya Singh, Girish Punjabi and Nandini Velho, 2015.

  4. Putting a Price on Tiger Reserves by Ajit Menon and Nitin D Rai, 2017.

  5. The Multiple Meanings of Nature Conservation by Ambika Aiyadurai, 2018.

Ed: To contribute to a more comprehensive discussion map, please share links to other relevant articles in the comments section or write to us at with the subject line—“Conservation versus Tourism.”
[Curated by Kieran Lobo (]




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