Economics of wildlife tourism – contribution to livelihoods of communities around Valmiki Tiger Reserve, Bihar

Posted on 04 February 2023
Nature Guide Training in Gobardhana Range VTR
© Kamlesh K. Maurya/WWF India
The Valmiki Tiger Reserve in northern Bihar is characterised by grasslands, savannah, wetlands, and riverine landscapes, and is not only home to a great variety of species like tigers, elephants and rhinos that draw tourists from across south-Asia.

In 2022, WWF India conducted a Skill Development and Capacity Building programme for over 52 nature guides (42 boys and 10 girls) in Valmiki Tiger Reserve. Nature guides play an important role of being messengers of the forest and its wildlife. These nature guides in the forest can help leave a permanent impression on the minds of people in favour of wildlife conservation. And a well-trained nature guide can enhance this experience. Nature guides are an important interface between the general public and wildlife, and can play a much larger role in conservation than just providing information.

Every year, lakhs of tourists visit Valmiki Tiger Reserve and carry back memories, and thereafter consciously or subconsciously and directly or indirectly play a role in the protection of tigers and other wildlife species. At the beginning of the tourism session i.e. Nov 2022, a total 27 nature guides were equipped (binocular, uniform, books, boots etc.) through Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP) and engaged in eco-tourism. These employed youths are now earning an average income of Rs. 5000.00 to 10000.00 (approx. Euro 52 to 113) per month per individual. The increased eco-tourism facilities and tiger recovery in VTR have further resulted in footfall of tourist and contributing towards livelihood of the local communities.

Comprehensive conservation actions in and around the tiger reserve and beyond were made possible through an ITHCP project protecting wildlife and mitigating human-wildlife interface since 2016.

The collaboration with WWF India is now being continued in the ITHCP Phase II Project (2021-2023) building on the first phase with a special focus on strengthening community engagement and support.

Communities are the driving force in managing buffer zones and key corridors. Direct benefits will include implementation of preventive and curative measures for providing alternative livelihood development options to communities to reduce pressure on natural forests, while ensuring their wellbeing.

This project is supported by IUCN’s Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme, funded by the German Cooperation via KfW Development Bank. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of WWF and do not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN, the German Cooperation or KfW.
Nature Guide Training in Gobardhana Range VTR
© Kamlesh K. Maurya/WWF India Enlarge
Nature Guide Training in Manguraha Range VTR
© Amit Thapa/WWF India Enlarge
Nature Guide Training in Valmikinagar
© Kamlesh K. Maurya/WWF India Enlarge
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