The Dual Nature of Safari Parks: Balancing Conservation and Controversy        

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March 11, 2024

The Dual Nature of Safari Parks: Balancing Conservation and Controversy        


  • Safari parks, often heralded as havens for wildlife, particularly big cats like tigers, have recently come under scrutiny due to their potential impact on conservation efforts. While intended to alleviate stress on these majestic creatures, the establishment of safari parks presents a complex scenario with both positive and negative implications.

Understanding “Tiger Safaris” and Their Evolution:

  • The recent Supreme Court ruling regarding the establishment of a Tiger Safari at Pakhrau within the Corbett tiger reserve highlights the evolving concept of safari parks. Originally conceptualized in 2012 by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to manage tourism pressures within tiger reserves, these parks were initially envisioned for viewing tigers in their natural habitats. However, subsequent guidelines permitted the inclusion of injured, conflicted, or orphaned tigers, with a notable prohibition against sourcing animals from zoos.

The Controversy Unveiled:

  • Despite their noble intentions, the inclusion of zoo animals in safari parks has sparked controversy. Critics argue that housing captive animals in natural habitats poses significant risks to both wild and captive populations, including the spread of disease and disruption of natural ecosystems. Moreover, the shift towards displaying “rescued” tigers in safari parks deviates from established conservation practices, raising concerns about prioritizing individual welfare over species preservation.

The Rationale Behind Safari Parks:

  • Proponents of safari parks cite multiple benefits, including alleviating tourism pressures within reserves, providing sanctuary for unfit animals, and supporting local livelihoods through tourism revenue. Additionally, these parks offer a means of retaining distressed animals within their natural environments, rather than relocating them to distant zoos.

Challenges and Realities:

  • Despite the perceived benefits, the implementation of safari parks faces practical challenges and potential pitfalls. Efforts to reduce tourism pressures often backfire, leading to increased visitor numbers and further strain on wildlife habitats. Additionally, the integration of captive animals into wild environments poses risks to both resident wildlife and captive individuals, as observed in instances such as the Nahargarh Biological Park.

Navigating the Path Forward:

  • As the debate over safari parks continues, the importance of cautious and site-specific approaches cannot be overstated. Rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all strategy, stakeholders must prioritize guiding principles that account for local contexts and conservation priorities. Moreover, safeguards should be in place to prevent the commodification of safari parks and ensure that conservation objectives remain paramount.


  • The establishment of safari parks represents a double-edged sword in conservation efforts, with the potential to alleviate stress on big cats while simultaneously posing risks to their welfare and natural habitats. As policymakers and conservationists chart the way forward, a balanced approach that considers both the benefits and challenges of safari parks is essential to safeguarding the long-term survival of these majestic creatures.

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The Dual Nature of Safari Parks: Balancing Conservation and Controversy | Vaid ICS Institute