Face lift for Chambal: Biodiversity as a Tourism Product


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The name of Chambal is synonymous for dacoits in India. Notorious criminals have been identified with this place including Man Singh, Daku Madho Singh, Dhanraj singh Rathur, Paan Singh Tomar, Phoolan Devi and Nirbhay Gujjar. This is for a reason, for centuries the Chambal ravine in Dholpur harbored dacoits (bandits).

Some case studies were even made into movies: Paan Singh Tomar & Poolan Devi, the bandit queen etc.

Though this place is around 75 kilometers from the world's seven wonders - TAJ MAHAL, tourists are a scared of visiting this place! Yearly foot fall at this place is close to 4000 tourists which is too low compared to Taj Mahal.

Here we stress the need for repositioning the brand Chambal as a Biodiversity destination for the world to visit with tourist attractions like:

1. Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) - Critically endangered
2. Red-crowned roof turtle and - Critically endangered
3. Ganges river dolphin - Endangered
4. It’s the place for locating largest number of Indian Skimmers
5. Other threatened species are:
- Muggar crocodile
- Smooth-coated Otter
- Striped Hyaena and
- Indian Wolf
- 8 of the 26 rare turtle species found in India are in Chambal
- An important bird area (IBA) and is a proposed Ramsar site
- At least 320 species of resident and migratory birds inhabit the sanctuary

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Face lift for Chambal: Biodiversity as a Tourism Product

  2. 2. NATIONAL CHAMBAL GHARIAL WILDLIFE SANCTUARY First reflection of Chambal in any common Indian’s mind is synonymous for dacoits including some of the known names like Man Singh, Daku Madho Singh, Dhanraj singh Rathur, Paan Singh Tomar, Phoolan Devi and Nirbhay Gujjar. For centuries the Chambal ravine in Dholpur harbored dacoits (bandits). Some cases which were made into a movies: Paan Singh Tomar & Poolan Devi, the bandit queen Eco-tourism & Biodiversity: Since 2008, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India and Madhya Pradesh Eco-tourism Board is promoting eco-tourism here. Key biological diversity attractions:  Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) - Critically endangered  Red-crowned roof turtle and - Critically endangered  Ganges river dolphin - Endangered  It’s the place for locating largest number of Indian Skimmers  Other threatened species are: Muggar crocodile, Smooth-coated Otter, Striped Hyaena and In- dian Wolf  8 of the 26 rare turtle species found in India are in Chambal  An important bird area (IBA) and is a proposed Ramsar site  At least 320 species of resident and migratory birds inhabit the sanctuary Chambal administrative division of Madhya Pradesh consists of three districts Morena, Bhind and Sheopur.
  3. 3. What is Gharial? The gharial (Scientific Name: Gavialis gangeticus) is a crocodilian of the family Gavialidae that is native to the Indian subcontinent. Its also called as Gavial / fish-eating crocodile. As the species has under- gone both chronic long term and rapid short-term declines it is listed as a Critically Endangered by IUCN. The gharial is one of three crocodilians native to India, the other two being the Mugger crocodile and the Salt water crocodile. It is one of the longest of all living crocodilians. What is the context? According to IUCN, there has been a population decline of 96–98% over a three-generation period since 1946, and the once widespread population of an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 individuals has been re- duced to a very small number of widely spaced subpopulations of fewer than 235 individuals in 2006. The drastic decline in the gharial population can be attributed to a variety of causes including over- hunting for skins and trophies, egg collection for consumption, killing for indigenous medicine, and killing by fishermen. Hunting is no longer considered to be a significant threat. However, the wild population of gharials has undergone a drastic decline of about 58% within nine years between 1997 and 2006 due to:  the increasing intensity of fishing and the use of gill nets, which is rapidly killing many of the scarce adults and many sub adults — a threat prevalent throughout most of the present gharial habitat, even in protected areas;  the excessive, irreversible loss of riverine habitat caused by the construction of dams, barrages, irri- gation canals, siltation, changes in river course, artificial embankments, sand-mining, riparian agri- culture, and domestic and feral livestock, which have combined to cause an extreme limitation to gharial range. In December 2007, officially 110 gharials were found dead in the Chambal River. Initially, it was sus- pected that fishermen illegally had caught fish using nets, in which gharials became trapped and subse- quently drowned. Later post-mortems and pathological testing of tissue samples from the dead gharials revealed high levels of heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, which together with stomach ulcers and protozoan parasites reported in most necropsies were thought to have caused their death.
  4. 4. Where is it conserved? Gharials once thrived in all the major river systems of the Indian subcontinent, spanning the rivers of its northern part from the Indus River in Pakistan across the Gangetic floodplain to the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. Today, they are extinct in the Indus River, in the Brahmaputra of Bhutan and Bangladesh and in the Ir- rawaddy River. Their distribution is now limited to only 2% of their former range. In India, small populations are present and increasing in the rivers of the National Chambal Sanctuary, Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, Son River Sanctuary and the rainforest biome of Mahanadi in Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary, Odisha, where they apparently do not breed. In Nepal, small populations are present and slowly recovering in tributaries of the Ganges, such as the Narayani-Rapti river system in Chitwan National Park and the Karnali-Babai river system in Bardia Na- tional Park. National Chambal Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary: National Chambal Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary, is a 5,400 km2 (2,100 sq mi) tri-state protected area in northern India for the critically endangered gharial (small crocodiles), the red-crowned roof turtle and the endangered Ganges river dolphin. Located on the Chambal River near the tri-point of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, it was first declared in Madhya Pradesh in 1978 and now consti- tutes a long narrow eco-reserve co-administered by the three states. Within the sanctuary the pristine Chambal River cuts through mazes of ravines and hills with many sandy beaches. However only since 2008, they started operating the sanctuary as an ecotourism product to general public and interested conservationist and biologists. Following are the tourist count in the last 6 years: Tourist flow Vs Amount collected Year Place Indian Foreigners Total Total Collection (INR) 2008-2009 Deori Center 10593 24 10617 21666 Chambal safari 770 5 775 97155 2009-2010 Deori Center 12209 7 12216 24558 Chambal safari 2962 47 3009 362070 2010-2011 Deori Center 14914 42 14956 30668 Chambal safari 4005 135 4140 515375 2011-2012 Deori Center 17024 48 17072 134980 Chambal safari 1696 24 1720 301775 2012-2013 Deori Center 15272 103 15375 154785 Chambal safari 3005 518 3523 543635 2013-June 2013 Deori Center 3534 22 3556 37520 Chambal safari 472 99 571 159105
  5. 5. Why the plan is important to study? There is a need to maintain the fresh water ecosystem intact in Chambal River Conservation of endangered species: Gharial, Red crowned roof turtles & River Dolphins Social development need to be promoted including reduction of unemployment History of dacoits / bandits to be rewritten with the pride of conservation activity Biodiversity as a product to face lift for Chambal Wildlife education need to be improved Guides training in eco-tourism Site should be made sustainable site following a well drafted protected areas management plan Decide the carrying capacity of the site Local community need to be included in the conservation and tourism activity Community involvement can increase tourists security Social evils to be managed from Sand mafia which threatens the natural habitat Infrastructure and facilities development Better technology to be adopted in Boating following international guidelines / machine choice Polythene/plastic banning etc best practices to be identified and educated to community Local network of decision makers and NGOs to be involved in the conservation process Study of lifestyle of individual animal and providing sufficient documentation for future research Marketing of the conservation park / destination development plan This place is close to the tourism circuit i.e. near Agra, Delhi & Gwalior Making Chambal as the center of attraction for conservation and model sustainable site in India Following indicates the number of animals found in yearly survey Survey Report Year Ghadial Maggar Dolphin 2003 514 132 66 2004 552 138 63 2005 584 155 65 2006 772 192 69 2007 865 194 91 2008 996 219 86 2009 934 226 84 2010 870 301 69 2011 928 311 65 2012 905 295 56 2013 948 356 59
  6. 6. RESEARCH INTEREST Sustainable & Responsible Tourism: Protected Areas Management involving Local Communities, Biodiversity Inclusive Tourism Management Plan (Wild & Marine Life) & Climate Change Name Mobile - 1 Mobile - 2 Email Country Skype : Anil.G : +91-9711 789 365 (NOIDA) : +91-94900 69000 (Andhra Pradesh) : itshuman@gmail.com : INDIA : GREENFINANCE