5th TOFTigers Wildlife Tourism Awards highlights the success story of Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve
A recent study initiated by TOFTigers and BAAVAN on “The Value of Wildlife Tourism Around Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan for Wildlife Conservation and Local Communities” was released during the 5th TOFTigers Wildlife Tourism Awards.
The Tiger numbers at Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan are now up to nearly 70 individuals – from just 11 in 2004 and it is now effectively self-sufficient in funding, raising INR 19.57 crore (US$2.85 million) in 2016/17 in park fees alone, said Dr. Raghu Chundawat, a Tiger Ecologist, on the sidelines of the TOFTigers Wildlife Tourism Awards 2018.
He presented the latest TOFTigers funded research into how valuable nature tourism is to the efforts of conservation and communities around the Ranthambhore Tiger reserve and highlighted the fascinating results on how the funds are being used by park management for protection efforts and local communities.
The increasing numbers of visitors aren’t having any impact on the Tiger numbers. Besides, the majority of economic benefits are proving advantageous to locals and over 2200 full-time jobs have been created by lodgings alone. The health, education and rural infrastructure are all better thanks to this dynamic rural economy.
The event coincided with the United Nations’ World Tourism Day on September 27. TOFTigers, in association with Sanctuary Nature Foundation, celebrated and rewarded those leading from the front in sustainable eco-tourism initiatives in India and Nepal.
“Inclusive Conservation – People and Wildlife” was the chosen theme for the 5th edition of the TOFTigers Wildlife Tourism Awards held at the British High Commissioner’s Residence in New Delhi.
About 250 invited guests and nominees, interacted with wildlife experts, Field Directors and Indian officials and applauded the ‘Best of the Best’ in wildlife tourism that supports conservation and communities across India and Nepal.
The well-attended gala dinner highlighted the efforts of individuals, businesses, service providers and community enterprises in the nature tourism sector – those who are pioneering new ways to support and inspire wildlife conservation, engage local communities and help the restoration of wildlife habitats through their vision, drive and actions.
TOFT utilised this opportunity urging travellers to look for or ask for the PUG rating when choosing any wildlife or wilderness-based lodging, thereby helping in driving sustainable change.
HSBC Bank and Rajasthan Tourism were the principal supporters of the event.
Winners & Runners Up for 2018
Wildlife Tourism Related Community Initiative of the Year 2018
WINNER: Jatayu Vulture Restaurant, Nepal
RUNNER UP: Tora Eco Resort & Life Experience Centre, Sundarbans, West Bengal
The Billy Arjan Singh Memorial Award Wildlife Guide of the Year 2018
WINNER: Ramkali Dhurway, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
RUNNER UP: Ramrao Sakharam Nehare, Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra
Wildlife and Tourism Award of the Year 2018
WINNER: Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust, Ladakh
RUNNER UP: Terra Conscious, Goa
Lodge Naturalist of the Year 2018
WINNER: Siddarth Biniwale, Reni Pani Jungle Lodge, Satpura Tiger reserve, MP
RUNNER UP: Uday Patel, Courtyard House, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
The John Wakefield Memorial Award for Most inspirational Eco lodge of the Year 2018
JOINT WINNER: Khem Villas, Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan
JOINT WINNER: Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge, Chitwan National Park, Nepal
RUNNER UP: Dhole’s Den, Bandipur National Park, Karnataka
Up and Coming Excellence in Nature Award 2018
WINNER: Red Earth Resort, Kabini, Karnataka
RUNNER UP: Flame of the Forest Safari Lodge, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
Wildlife Promotion Company of the Year 2018
No award was given here. The judges felt that no company would win this award this year as there were no outstanding examples of those who operated and promoted their responsible eco-friendly credentials to the maximum extent possible to their travel partners, clients and guests.
International Tour Operator Of The Year 2018
WINNER: All for Nature, Netherlands
JOINT RUNNERS UP: Greaves Travel, UK
JOINT RUNNERS UP: Natural World Safaris, UK