Conservation: TOFTigers Wildlife Tourism Awards 2016

Conservation: TOFTigers Wildlife Tourism Awards 2016

The 4th iteration of the awards celebrates the rewilding of habitats and responsible nature tourism

The highly anticipated 4th TOFTigers Wildlife Tourism Awards 2016, which recognise the best in the field of nature tourism, will be announced on September 22. The Awards are run by the sustainable nature tourism action charity Tour Operators for Tigers, or TOFTigers, in association with Outlook Traveller and Sanctuary Asia.

The Awards aim to highlight and reward the very best in the nature tourism field; those individuals, businesses, service providers and community enterprises who are leading the way in wilderness destinations in the Indian subcontinent. This year’s theme is celebrating ‘Rewilding—at the heart of responsible nature tourism’.

There are nine categories of awards this year which include The John Wakefield Memorial Award for Most Inspirational Eco Lodge of the Year 2016, The Billy Arjun Singh Memorial Award for Best Wildlife Guide of the Year 2016 (prize of Rs 20,000) and a Wildlife and Tourism Initiative of the Year 2016 (prize—Rs 50,000 towards equipment/services for the benefit of the community).

There is also a Visitor Friendly Wildlife Destination of the Year 2016 with a prize of Rs 75,000 worth of kit or equipment to be used in tiger protection/conservation.

Each awardee in their own way will be pioneering new ways to support and inspire wildlife conservation, engage local communities and help restoration of wildlife habitat through their vision, drive and actions.

With the new government’s commitment to use tourism as a development and job creation tool, it’s more critical than ever that it’s driven down a sustainable path, and real ecotourism is one of the principal ways of ensuring conservation as well as a sustainable source of revenue for both local communities and the government. Tiger tourism derives hundreds of millions of pounds, rupees and dollars of revenue for travel operators, and accommodation and service providers in India, yet an almost negligible, fraction of this is currently reinvested in the conservation of the parks and reserves you will enjoy as part of your holiday.

To date there has been too little effort to enforce wildlife laws, too little communication and information to help parks and tourists support each other and too little effort to encourage locally run responsible wildlife tourism. It is critical that local communities become stakeholders, rather than conservation victims, in the battle to save India’s forests and wildlife.

It is more important than ever to recognise those who work towards a sustainable future for the tiger, the environment and for the local communities who need to survive alongside our many endangered species.

Register and vote for the Awards here:  

Readers Write: Honnemaradu

Readers Write: Honnemaradu

Birding, picturesque scenery, adventure and good food–Honnemaradu has got them all\\n

For those seeking a serene adventure holiday, Honnemaradu (literally, golden lake) in Karnataka is the answer. The place, which essentially consists of a small village and a reservoir, offers plenty of adventure activities. It is about 200km from Mangaluru, positioned along the backwaters of River Sharavathi near Sagara town and perched atop hills overlooking the Linganamakki dam.

Honnemaradu is often referred to as a birders’ haven. It boasts of splendid views of the sunrise and sunset, and its lake is dotted with plenty of beautiful islands. Rich in flora and fauna, it is also one of the prettiest man-made lakes of Karnataka.

The only accommodation option available here is a Bengaluru-based ecotourism unit known as The Adventurers, which offers adventure activities and corporate trips, and serves food cooked using local ingredients. The place has no mobile network, and given its eco-tourism status, doesn’t allow cigarette and alcohol consumption. Though, while we were here, the clean air, pure water, good food, and the calm and peaceful surroundings more than made up for their absence, and time simply flew by. And surrounded by Sharavathi’s divine waters, which also happened to be drinkable, we found ourselves repeatedly hitting the water.

As for the food, they could be be described as ‘meals for the soul’, and not just the tummy. The rice sambar, cooked with locally grown vegetables and served with refreshing buttermilk, was just as tasty as nutritious. Later in the evening, we again hit the water, but this time for kayaking and coracle boating (which involved a ride in a small round wickerwork boat). After this, we hiked to a bonfire and camping area, which proved to be quite a highlight. We sat in a circle around the fire and got to hear some wonderful and inspirational stories, which we savoured along with dinner. We couldn’t get enough of the star-studded night sky, away from the smog of the city.

Next day, around 6am, we proceeded for a trek–surrounded by the beauty of the morning and the chirping of the birds. On the hilltop there was the Bheemana Hejje, which are rock depressions believed to be the footprints of Bhima , and locally worshipped as a shrine.

Thanks to all these experiences, Honnemaradu had proved to be a perfect getaway, which will remain etched in our hearts for the years to come.

Meenakshi Gupta, a postgraduate from Delhi University, started her career as a professor of marketing. She has been associated with the travel and tourism industry for the past 10 years, and has even been an editor of a travel magazine. A businesswoman, freelance writer, travel enthusiast, runner, amateur trekker and someone who loves taking pictures of nature and food–she certainly dons many hats.

Atali Ganga

Atali Ganga

An oasis surrounded by a reserved forest at Rishikesh

Village Walks at Sarayu Valley

Village Walks at Sarayu Valley

Connect with Himalaya

Where: Sarayu Valley, Kumaon
When: March 14 to 19
How long: 6 days
How much: Rs 39,000

What to expect:

A quintessential Kumaoni village comes with its own set of folk tales, unique views of the snow-covered peaks, its twist to the regional cuisine, personal meadows and much more. Things you will not experience unless you stay with them, eat with them and walk their paths. Short, easy walks will take you from one village to another as you accumulate stories and experiences. The stay will be comfortable and simple, food authentic and the smiles genuine.

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