EDEN-2: The Golden Triangle Model & Strategy Survey

Tiger, Environment, and People Have to Grow Together If They’re to Grow at All

by Prof. Nishi K. Mukerji, Managing Director — The Tiger Center, co-developer of the model with Dr. CJ Meadows, Chairman — The Tiger Center

Effective strategies and policies incorporate the power of contemporary knowledge in the process of their formulation and implementation. In this context The Tiger Center has held the position that the dots must be joined between: economic development, conservation, & environment nurturing, to form the “Golden Triangle Model” of conservation:

The Golden Triangle Model

With the analytical insights facilitated by the ‘golden triangle’ concept, we have an operating model that joins the line between conservation and development, so that both can be successfully implemented.

Without the complementarity between development and conservation, which is an imperative given the socioeconomic realities facing the country and indeed the planet; these realities are an underlying theme throughout this paper; neither conservation nor development will succeed, leading to probable disaster.

Examples abound where development and conservation are mutually reinforcing as successful strategies, in Africa, Asia (including some parts of India), and in the ‘West’ and deserve to be researched, studied, and brought into the realm of successful public policy.

This paper, “Economic Development & Environment Nurturing” — EDEN- 2 — continues The Tiger Center series of discussion papers and publications, to stimulate thought and impact policy. The discussion is structured as under:

1) the halcyon days, from the earliest times of antiquity, where myth blurs into history. There is so much romance in this subject when in times past monarchs artists saints and others, ventured into the forests for gain and enlightenment. This was followed by the reality of empire, and the imperatives to create the imperial forest service in 1864.

2) the period of ‘permanent autumn’. The 35 to 40 years from the first tiger census in 1973 to 2008/11 when the tiger numbers kept declining like leaves falling from the trees in the forest in a veritable permanent autumn, accompanied with the degradation of the habitat. (please note that in this paper the word ‘tiger’ is used as a metaphor for all wild assets).

3) renaissance and revival: policies to make the future. At the recent tiger countries conference in Delhi in 2016 the prime minister used the term ‘natural capital’ first introduced by the authors Paul Hawken, and Amory and Hunter Lovins in their path breaking book ‘Natural Capitalism,’ and in our first paper EDEN. The prime ministers contention was that there would be no conflict between development and conservation as long as the wild assets ‘natural capital’, apart from being the focus of conservation and research which seems to be the primary agenda of the forest service, were also managed in a manner that they became performing economic assets, generating income and employment.

The Halcyon Days

Indias wild areas have found expression in prehistory with rock paintings dating back to 4000 BC, as well as to seals from the Indus valley civilisation as far back as 3000 BC. References in the Vedas, the Mahabharata and the Ramayan and the goddess Durga sitting astride a tiger, with many paintings showing reverence and appreciation for India’s wild assets bear testimony to the deep historical embrace of India to its wild life heritage. This commitment is reflected even today in the Bishnoi people of Rajhastan being willing to take a bullet to protect a chinkara antelope.

But the advent of empire in the 18th century changed the rules of the game. The empire was faced with the challenge of having to govern and administer vast lands, peoples, and cultures spreading across continents from the new world through Asia and Africa. New institutions, structures, and systems had to be created for effective ‘governance’, and to ‘keep an eye on’ and control the conquered peoples.

The imperial forest service was established in 1864, under the stewardship of Mr. Deitrich Brandis the first inspector general of forests in India. This service eventually evolved into the Indian forest service in 1966, other dimensions of the new structures and systems took root in the form of the forest research institute (FRI) in Dehradun in 1920, and the forest college in 1938.in the early years the officers were trained mainly, in Germany France and England and the stated focus of the training was “the scientific management of forest resources, and to exploit them on a sustainable basis.” the thrust was on ‘timber products.’ they probably still are!!

But of course the main agenda was fuelled by the economic logic of the empire. The colonies were:

a) a source of cheap labour, b) raw materials, and c) a captive market. The steam engine and the railways opened the innards of the subcontinent to the exploitation of its natural wealth, and millions of cubic meters of sal forest were cut to make the sleepers required for the railway lines. The wealth of the colonies kept the industrial systems of the west humming with activity and delivered a standard of living to them whilst leaving the colonies to languish and lurch in bitter poverty. The advent of modern hunting fire arms made the forests attractive destinations for the entertainment of the elites and hundreds of wild animals were killed and mounted with pride. In fact just killing a tiger was often a ‘rite of passage’, for a young person, and there was wanton slaughter during shikar, often organised officially by the establishment. Great naturalists like col. Corbett warned of impending disaster, but at that time who was listening?!

The imperative to manage the ‘natural capital’, and the establishment of institutions like the imperial forest service, the forest research institute, and the forest college amongst others, made it incumbent on the management to develop the syllabi for the training of their personnel. The European leadership were after all the inheritors of the industrial revolution, the renaissance, and the triumph of the ‘age of reason.’ they naturally brought to bear their own academic predilections in the formulation and the creation of the syllabus, and the content of what was to be taught.

It is instructive to note the expertise of the senior leaders of the forest organisations from the time of the Europeans up to the more recent times of their Indian inheritors.

Deitrich Brandis, ‘the father of tropical forestry’ was a botanist. Cyril Beesons’ expertise was in geology and entomology (the study of insects). Hugh Francis Cleghorn was a madras born botanist, and Robert Scott Troup was an expert in silviculture. The Indian inheritors of the forest traditions of learning started with hari singh mbe, who was the first Indian ig forests. Many illustrious officers carried the baton forward. P Srinivas who was murdered by the brigand veerapan had a masters in life sciences. Sanjiv Chaturvedi had a b tech degree and was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay award. He was a crusader against corruption. Ramesh Pandey, and of course the redoubtable Fateh Singh Rathor, all of them, carried the torch of the Indian forest service for all its officers with honour and merit. And many outstanding forest service officers continue the great tradition of excellence to the present day.

But the focus of the learning was on botany, zoology, ethology, geology, and related subjects, which is of primary importance when the emphasis is only on conservation and research. This is reflected in what is formally taught in the syllabus of the forest management institutions, with the importance being given to social forestry, logging training centres, projects, etc. This of course must remain primary on the teaching agenda and of great importance. But galloping and irreversible change is engulfing the scenario making it an imperative to change with the times the mission, vision, and skills of those who manage our ‘natural capital’ and wild assets.

In the socio-economic realm, there is an exponential growth in the population of educated young people with much higher aspirations than their forbears especially in rural areas where our forests are. This burgeoning young population is demanding income and employment opportunities. Simultaneously ‘wild life and adventure tourism’ is the fastest growing segment of the biggest industry in the world after oil, which is tourism. This is a clear case where a need and opportunity meet.

The custodians of ‘natural capital’ are being inexorably drawn into the realm of competitive strategy. If the leaders and managers of the ‘natural capital’ in the course of their work, will not learn development economics and management, and create the income and the employment required by the young population, than in the long run the mining and the real estate sectors amongst others will invade these regions. In fact, they already are. Power plants and mining lobbies are hungrily encroaching on forest lands. They promise incomes and employment and will deliver on what the population wants, and eventually destroy the ‘natural capital.’ this aspect will be discussed in greater detail in the section, ‘renaissance and revival’.

The Period of Permanent Autumn

At the turn of the 20th century more than a 100k tigers, the largest big cat on the planet, and all its 9 subspecies roamed the earth from the black sea in the west to Sumatra in the east. As of now 3 of the tiger subspecies, the bali, the javan, and the caspian tiger, are extinct. The bengal tiger, or the indian tiger, panthera tigris tigris, constitutes about 70 % of the total number of tigers on the planet. The table below is informative.

Nb. The Indian tiger constitutes 70 % of the global population of tigers. The estimated global tiger numbers are shown below. Apart from India, the other 12 ‘tiger countries’ are: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, North Korea, And Russia.

In 1972, Mrs. Indira Gandhi championed the cause of the tiger, and India conducted the first official tiger census in the country. The results showed that there was a devastating drop in tiger numbers from a 100k at the turn of the 20th century to a meagre 1827. ‘Project tiger’ to conserve the tiger and its habitat was launched. The number of parks within the scope of project tiger has now increased to 50, and still counting. Villages from within the areas of the tigers habitat have been incentivised to be relocated, and a special tiger protection force (STPF) has been created amongst many other laudable initiatives.

But an analysis of the numbers above provokes questions and must bear scrutiny. In spite of all the tiger protection measures, and even after 35 years! In 2008 the number of tigers in the census were 416 tigers less than in 1973 a drop of 22.7 %. That apart almost 40 years later in 2011 the number of tigers recorded at 1706 were still 121 or about 7 % tigers less than the 1827 recorded in 1972.

This was the period of the ‘permanent autumn’ when tiger numbers and habitat degradation continued unabated like leaves falling from the trees in autumn. Einstein famously observed that one of the marks of insanity was when anyone continued to do the same thing repeatedly even after that measure failed to achieve the desired results time after time, and every time. Forty years of failure!! Many ‘a wise man from the east’ and of course the ‘experts’ found fault with the census methodologies. This is changing the goal posts when you are losing the game, and is intellectually dishonest. It is a false nicety. The broad trend and the reality was clear. Declining tiger numbers and habitat degradation was continuing unabated. Something was obviously wrong with the operating model and concept.

The level of deceitful chicanery reached a nadir with the Sariska poaching scandal, which surfaced in 2008. Without indulging in court martials, very senior functionaries within the service were sent to Sariska, since a long time visitor had been reporting to Mr. Sen, an excellent officer of unimpeachable integrity that all the tigers of Sariska had been poached. This worthy went to Sariska, and forged the pugmarks of tigers on the ground near water holes and sent back photographs to Mr. Sen as proof that all was well in Sariska. The visitor who reported the poaching to Mr. Sen was also threatened. Two weeks later the CBI entered and investigated Sariska and confirmed that no tigers were left in Sariska. Sansar Chand had poached and proved his point. What more can be said? (kindly read the ‘sen interviews’ on Sariska, available on Google), and let the light shine.

But there were other pages still to be written about this period of the ‘permanent autumn’. Champions of tiger conservation surfaced by droves, tilting at windmills to protect the tiger. They to their credit travelled the world raising resources with the help of many generous foreign ‘tiger experts’ mainly managing zoos in their own countries. None of these persons were of the calibre and substance of a Corbett (the greatest of them all) a brander, or a Salim Ali. These men were giants whose learnings in ‘jungle lore’ were deeply rooted in the realities of India’s wild assets. They were scholar-scientists, and deserved the accolade and rights to the ‘the freedom of the forests’ conferred on them by the government.

The resources generated by the unfailing energies of the tiger-champions and their patrons and colleagues abroad and in India, were transferred to the country. A lot of work was done, numerous beautifully bound and produced books with excellent photographs of the tiger were written. Whilst some were ‘riding’ tigers, which were otherwise ‘vanishing’, others were able to produce the ‘ultimate’ book on this magnificent animal. Most of them between the lines longed for the ‘good old days’ and lamented the tragic realities of the present.

But for all their finesse and best intentions the publications lacked a cogent conceptual operating model of conservation to ensure the growth of the tiger numbers and its habitat. Many of the books were as much about the authors, their families, and their connections, as they were about India’s wild assets. In the age of the electronic media, TV channels jumped on to the band wagon to produce programs for their international audiences for whom the TV programs were interesting and exotic viewing experiences. Needless to say every one involved in the system benefitted financially and why not? But the truth would not be buried. Tiger numbers continued to decline for 35 to 40 years (as the table above reveals) and the degradation of its habitat continued unabated.

This tragic reality created panic stations throughout the system. The silver lining in this cloud was that the Assam government and the Kaziranga tiger reserve persevered with a policy to “shoot the poacher.” a very laudable move, which should be implemented, on a pan India scale. But some satisfactory and credible explanation had to be given. Something had to be done to turn the tide. The fountainheads of wisdom and authority playing blind mans bluff decided that the main culprit was the wild life tourist and the resorts that they lived in. Though the very same authorities had cleared both the visitor, and the resorts.

Tourism was the softest and easiest target, even though the evidence the world over indicated that wild life numbers and habitat degradation was accelerated when tourism was irrationally curtailed, and that enlightened and well-managed tourism had a salutary impact both on the economy and wild life environments. But the plot would not be complete without a villain. And as so often happens when there are no credible answers the problem is couched in ‘rocket science language’ to confuse and hopefully to impress.

It was loftily stated that “anthropogenic human presence from tiger habitats” must be removed. Great scientists picked up increasing volumes of tiger schat to scrutinise what the tiger had eaten the previous night. People who had no knowledge or experience of wild life hospitality decided that ‘home stays’ whatever that might mean! Was the panacea for the problem of visitors? And finally tourism was completely banned.

When tourism restarted, the wisdom of the honourable supreme court of India was cited to limit visitors to 20 % of the core area of the parks. This in many instances was deliberately twisted to mean not “20% of the core area,” of the parks but 20 % of the existing roads in the core areas. So large tracts of the parks were cut off and closed. Is this contempt of court?! The direct impact of all this was a drastic reduction in the number of visitors to the parks, and a damaging decline in income, employment, and revenue, which the parks used to earn and generate. There was a concomitant increase in the spread of poverty in some of the poorer parts of an already poor country.

In contrast the operating models of managing wild assets in other countries, South Africa, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and the us were distinctly different. Here the “natural capital” was a performing economic asset, generating wealth. Wild life and habitats were growing and healthy, visitor numbers were increasing, and as a natural corollary, so also were income, employment and revenue. Huge dents were being made against poverty. You saw no poverty in the vicinity of the parks. It was a win-win game. This was the path to renaissance and revival.

Nb. {before we move to the next section it must be mentioned that forest leadership in India is already gearing itself to take a pole position in the wild life and adventure segment of the global economy. Given the unrivalled “natural capital” India is blessed with, and the emerging young visionary leadership within the administration in India, who are building on the highest traditions of arguably the finest forest service in the world, it is only a matter of time before India becomes the leading trend setter in this sector of the global economy. It is basically a leadership issue. It will fail only if leadership fails.

Without making invidious comparisons, and with no prejudice towards other champions in other parts of the country, some names must be mentioned. The forest minister of Maharashtra Mr. Mungantiwar wants the Tadoba Andhari tiger reserve to become a preferred world class wild life destination, and it is well on the way. Mr. Pravin Pardesi, the principal secretary to the chief minister of Maharashtra, and Mr Srinivas Reddy who led a revival in Vidarbha and is now the director of the Melghat tiger reserve have blazed a trail. Mr. Sanjay Shukla the new director of the Kanha tiger reserve is a consummate professional, and has implemented many imaginative changes in the management of the kanha tiger reserve. Mr Maheep Gupta the managing director of the eco tourism Board of Maharashtra must also be mentioned in this roll of honour. All these gentlemen have a larger vision of the issues facing the challenges to conservation and development, and formulate and implement strategies in this context.}

Renaissance and Revival

As the figures in the table indicate, the growing numbers of tigers, with an increase of 30.4 % in 2014 over 2011, and a further increase of 35 % in the current estimates over 2014, the period of renaissance and revival has already begun, and the trend is positive. And as we address this issue we must understand the conceptual underpinnings of this sector of the economy, and the economic value of the environment.

At independence in 1947, dr. G C Kumarappa a highly qualified economist from Columbia University In New York, and a chartered accountant from England and wales, was a close associate, and the voice of mahatma Gandhi on economic policy. Gandhijis view on economic development was that the emphasis should be on the rural sector where 70 % of the population lived, and on the environment. In line with this Dr. Kumarappa made the analogy that the honey bee takes the nectar from the flower without harming it. So progress without causing damage to the environment should be the strategic direction.

Gandhiji was assassinated, and Dr. Kumarappa was sidelined. The Nehru Mahalanobis model was infatuated by the soviet thrust on heavy industries and the public sector. We are still living with the problems created by taking this direction on the road to development. The current dispensation in power continues to ignore the Gandhi/Kumarappa vision. It follows the old industrial development models. The only difference now is that instead of the public sector the emphasis is on cronies with private capital.

The discussion on the Gandhi/Kumarappa perspective on economic development has a pivotal bearing on understanding an unique feature, in the economic logic of the forests and the wild life sector. The conventional wisdom postulates a conflict between economic development and environmental health. A factory, a mine, or a supermarket will of course harm the environment in some measure. But this is simply not true for the forests and the wild life sector. If forests and wild areas are treated as economic assets to create wealth. Than obviously this environment has to be preserved and protected. The lesson is, that: in this sector the economy and the environment are mutually reinforcing! This has enormous significance for national planning.

For the last two hundred years from the days of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, economists have failed to factor in the environment into the computations of economic value. Even now in calculating GDP (gross domestic product) the value created by the productive assets of an economy, other assets are depreciated, but the environment and natural resources are not.

However recently the institute of forest management has published laudable attempts at in house studies calculating the value and the annual monetary benefits of 6 Indian tiger reserves. It seems that since land is an inelastic resource, and many industries, mining, real estate, and power, among others, compete for control of land, the forest sector has felt the compelling need to vindicate its ‘ownership’ of the forest lands by giving it the economic value which it generates. And this is how indeed it should be in competitive strategy.

We are not aware of the methodologies assumptions and techniques used in the quantitative/ qualitative models to make the calculations of the 6 tiger reserves, and how they stand up to robust scrutiny. But the results have been published. The six tiger reserves are valued at INR 1.5 lac crores, and they generate annual monetary benefits worth INR 7970 crores, the value in rupees crore generated by reserves are: Periyar 1760, Kanha 1650, Corbett 1470, Sundarbans 1280, Kaziranga 980, And Ranthambore 830, making a total of INR 7970 crores.

The study goes on to state that the ‘experts’ making these calculations took into account the monetary estimates of a range of “ecosystems services”. This of course says everything and reveals nothing. The attempt at valuing the reserves is very creditable but the assumptions and methodologies to make the calculations should be debated openly, not only to establish the veracity of the conclusions, but this could be a pathbreaking advance in developing models for valuing the environment.

But value is an elusive and alluring mistress. The question remains. Value for who? Who benefits? The six tiger reserves mentioned have a calculated value of INR 1.5 lakh crores, and generate annual monetary benefits of INR 7970 crores. In the fora where these matters are debated these evaluations may hold the fort to retain control over resources and thwart the challenge from competing industries like real estate, mining, and power. But otherwise these numbers are largely notional. They do not have a societal impact in delivering a standard of living, by creating income and employment avenues for the populations living in the vicinity of the reserves.

To pursue this issue further the Kruger National Park in South Africa covers an area of around 19k sq. Km. The park plays host to approximately a million visitors every year. The average length of stay (ALS) of the visitors is about a week, and they spend in the neighbourhood of USD 300 to 500/- per day. Even a back of the envelope calculation reveals that the park earns more than a billion USD annually on 19k sq km of wild assets, and this number is actual inflow, and is not notional.

Vidarbha in Maharashtra has 38 k sq km of forest (twice the area of the Kruger Park). Recently there has been a renaissance, and Vidarbha’s wild assets are transforming into global reckoning. But in earlier years the wild assets earnings were minuscule, and they were just arid, remote areas. On magnitudes of scale Vidarbha with 38 k sq. Km of forests, could generate twice the value of the Kruger Park at USD 2.0 bn (INR 140 bn)! And Madhya Pradesh the neighbouring state with 5 times the forest wealth of Vidarbha could logically earn USD 10.0 bn (INR 7oo bn)!! This would be actual inflow, and not notional amounts. Of course these numbers have to be tempered with judgment, but the analysis does show the immense potential of the wild assets to create value, and generate income and employment, and deliver a standard of living, to relevant populations.

Let us look at other examples, where the strategic intent has been to utilise ‘natural capital’ as a performing economic asset. The Masai Mara migrations in Kenya and Tanzania are internationally famous. Kenya gets 300k visitors annually and the wild assets earn approximately 6 % of the USD 75 bn GDP. An impressive USD 5.0 bn, the largest earner of foreign exchange, and a substantial generator of income and employment in Kenya’s economy. In Sri Lanka the Yala National Park has an impressive track record of earnings, and visitors faithfully filled the Lankan coffers and gave income and employment opportunities to the indigenous populations, even during the worst days of the Tamil insurgency in that country.

Continuing with the analysis, the Yellowstone National Park in the US sits a top a dormant volcano, from which geysers like Old Smokey gush at regular time intervals. The area of the park is approximately 6k sq. Km., about the same size as the Bangladesh side of the Sundarban mangrove jungle. Yellowstone gets about 4 million visitors a year, who spend an average of 3 days and USD 100 per day. The calculated earnings are already astronomical! In contrast the Sundarbans valued at INR 1280 crores on the Indian side; is one of the poorest places on the planet on both sides of the border, India and Bangladesh. The question remains. Value, but for who!?

So what was the logic of success in transforming the ‘natural capital’ into wealth generating ‘economic assets’ in the examples mentioned thus far? They followed the first principle of development management, which is that to start with; make your own natural assets economically productive. As a case in point Singapore has as an asset, the location of their sea port, on a maritime highway for all the ocean going traffic from the orient to the occident and the reverse. Singapore invested in making their port arguably the finest in the world and structured their economic success story around that strategic move. The rest is history.

The logic of success of these globally famous parks is built around some key features of strategy implementation:

i) international marketing: these destinations and parks are promoted globally. From Times Square to Trafalgar Square, across the world through Western Europe, the Americas, ‘down under’ and the Far East. Wherever people have the discretionary incomes to travel and spend on wild life and adventure, these parks are powerfully promoted. Domestic visitors are also encouraged, and the international lesson has been learnt that domestic tourism tends to follow the destinations of international visitors, and is a substantial financial bonus to the economic performance off the asset.

ii) infrastructure development: to cater to global requirements, appropriate investments in infrastructure are essential. Air, roads, and railway communication have to be world class. The deccan odyssey to the Tadoba Andhari Park is a fine initiative. Helicopter services to Melghat, Kanha, and other destinations would be a shot in the arm. Places to board and lodge, (study the South African experience, especially the mantis group of resorts) of global standards, and essential facilities such as doctors, for medical emergencies, and classy souvenir shopping would be part of a competitive package of facilities.

iii) skills development: to match the expectations of the visitors skills have to be developed in the host nations to ensure the success of the strategy. The understanding of development economics and hospitality is not part of the training syllabus of the personnel of the forest service. It is unfortunate to see museums and sound and light facilities being managed by persons who lack knowledge of wild life and untrained in languages, are unable to communicate with visitors. Sometimes the hygiene standards in wash and comfort rooms, are substandard, and one bad experience can defame the destination, and indeed the entire country.

iv) maintenance of order and the rules of tourism: this is a fundamental to increasing the prestige and the brand equity of the destination, and adding value to the visitors experience. It is a matter of surprise that those elements who break the rules and indulge in unacceptable behaviour in India are so servile in other countries. Would they dare to behave with the same boorish vandalism in the Kruger, the Mara and the more sanitised environment of Singapore. The question is rhetorical and the answer is obvious. It is incumbent on the park authorities to implement the rules of the park with ruthless efficiency for all, and worry less about VIP’s. Truant behaviour must be punished severely. The law is on the side of the administration, and the culprits must even be jailed if necessary.

v) finally (and there may indeed be other measures) the most important way to protect, enhance and even increase the numbers and the value of the wild assets, and create good will and confidence in the target populations is to: shoot the poacher; shoot the poacher; shoot the poacher. There is no other way. The Kaziranga, and the Kruger Park have a clear policy, which they implement in this regard. Poachers are shot. This should become a pan-India policy.

Strategies are formulated in the context of realities. There is an unique scenario emerging in India. India is a young country where more than 65 %, or 800 mn of its enormous population of 1.2 bn people (second only to china) is below the age of 30. Seventy percent of this, or 560 mn young people (almost twice the population of the us) live in the rural areas where our forest wealth and ‘natural capital’ is located. This young population is not only enormous in numbers but is significantly different in psychographic and demographic profiles, and aspiration levels compared to their forbears.

Even a cursory glance reveals this reality. If the father is wearing a dhoti, chappals, and riding a bicycle, the son sports a ‘t’ shirt, a pair of jeans, shades, and rides a motorcycle. Even the ladies are so different. Compared to their aunts and mothers. They wear modern fashion based clothes, use cosmetics, and are far more outgoing in their behaviour. They carry the catalysts of this change on them. They all have hand phones; they watch TV. Many use the internet, and social media. Education is far more widespread, computers are widely used, and now even the rural populace lives in the same ‘time zone’ with the rest of the world. By pressing a button they can watch the same cricket match, and CNN news, just like anyone anywhere else.

There is one unifying reality across this vast subcontinent about this young India, which gives us what the economists call the ‘demographic dividend’. All these young people want incomes and employment. Ignoring this reality can be a fatal flaw in Indian planning. This young segment of Indians is not going away anywhere anytime soon. Earlier in the paper we had asserted that the global rise of wild life and adventure tourism as the fastest growing segment of the immense tourism industry, and the emergence of this young population in India was a historic happenstance where a need and an opportunity meet. For the potential of this phenomenon to fructify into reality some initiatives have to be actioned by leadership.

A) conservation and research must remain an important focus of the administration. There should be no dilution in the commitment to professional forestry.

B) the accountability for economic outcomes should be added to the job profiles of those who are accountable for managing the ‘natural capital’. There must be an appreciation that the administration controls very valuable ‘natural capital’. This capital must earn to the full extent of its potential for the nation, in terms of generating revenue, income and employment. To do this successfully the training of personnel must include, development economics; management sciences; hospitality; and other related disciplines, as may be deemed fit in the formal syllabi of the organisation.

C) international and domestic marketing; infrastructure development; skills development; maintaining the highest standards of hospitality and discipline in tourism; and showing zero tolerance for poaching; are big ticket items in making our wild assets and ‘natural capital’ the global leaders in the arena of ‘wild life and adventure. We are certainly endowed with a wealth of ‘natural capital’, which should enable us to take a pole position internationally.

D) these many years, we have been fighting a ‘holding action’ in trying to save the tiger and its habitat. It has been a long hard road, and kudos to the administration who have worked very hard. But is it time now to plan and work to increase the number of tigers and its habitat to the fullness of potential park by park, region by region in this country?! Quoting a notable voice on tigers in India, and not withstanding some recent controversies, “Indian forests have the capacity to accommodate 5k to 10k tigers.” (ulhas karanth). With an increase in this natural wealth we can plan to increase the economic wealth of the country also, and further fortify the future of our magnificent national animal.

E) globally under water ocean parks are an area of increasing study and interest in natural history, and tourism, and contribute as much as land based parks, both to the study of natural history and to the economy. From Alaska, to Australia, South Africa, and through out the far east under water sea life earns significantly and is of enormous international interest. India has a coastline which is longer than 7500 km. We have not even started ‘digging’ if we can that use that term for water, the surface for the potential of underwater parks. Every time the author at various fora has raised the point the reaction has been one of mild surprise!!! Any way the potential is enormous.

This is a discussion paper. It should hopefully generate debate, dissent and discussion. Many other thoughts could be added to the agenda for renaissance and revival. They will be welcomed.


In conclusion this second tiger center discussion paper EDEN- 2 starts with introducing the ‘golden triangle model’, (authored by the tiger center. The model whilst being a team effort gained much from the thought leadership of Dr. CJ Meadows the chair of the tiger center). The model factors in the macro variables of the economy the environment, and conservation, and establishes their interactive causation in achieving the desired outcomes in all three areas, ie, conservation, the economy, and the environment.

In the halcyon days; india has historically embraced its rich heritage in ‘wild assets’. The advent of empire changed the rules of the game. The empire saw the colonies as sources of cheap labour, raw materials and a captive market. They needed to ‘keep an eye’ on the conquered people. They established institutions like the forest research institute, and the Indian forest college, and taught their personnel subjects which were pertaining to professional forestry. A broad sweep of the earliest European pioneers down to their eminent Indian inheritors of their discipline has been covered in this note.

The period of the ‘permanent autumn’ covering almost 4 decades since the first tiger census, in 1973, and the start of ‘project tiger’, reveals the continuing decline in tiger numbers and habitat degradation in spite of all the enormous efforts. A number of tiger champions emerged, and raised substantial resources both within the country and internationally. Numerous and beautifully bound coffee table books were published, many nostalgic talks and columns of print were exhaustively undertaken. Not a single hypothesis to develop an operating model for conservation of the tiger and its habitat was published and opened to informed scrutiny. Finally they discovered the ‘villain of the peice’, the tourist!! Tourism was banned; there was a destructive drop in revenue, income and employment. But that was passe. Who cared!

The solution to a problem starts with the recognition of a problem. Obviously there was a design flaw in the operating model which led to the continuing decline of the tiger and the degradation of its habitat. The attempt to protect the wild assets like fish in an aquarium in a kind of ‘in vitro’ dish culture was failing. Internationally successful conservation models treated the wild life parks like ‘natural capital’ to earn for the nations economy largely through growing tourism; and wild life and adventure tourism was becoming the fastest growing segment of the biggest industry after oil -- tourism.

In India, blessed with some of the finest ‘natural capital’ on the planet, administered by arguably the leading forest service in the world, and the growth of an enormous youth component in its population demographics, we now have all the ingredients of a situation where a need and an opportunity meet. For this potential to fructify into reality successfully some points on the action agenda have been underscored.

The focus on conservation, research and professional forestry must remain undiluted. However, international marketing, infrastructure development, maintaining the highest standards of discipline and hospitality in tourism, zero tolerance of poaching, will be attributes, which will give the Indian, experience a global standing.

Now with the accountability for earning from the ‘natural assets’, and in fact to grow the habitat, and create income and employment opportunities, the knowledge base to accomplish this will require an education, (apart from the existing subjects) in development economics, and the management sciences, and these subjects should be formally taught within the system.

In ending this paper, if its prescriptions are followed there is much to do, but the journey will be as exciting and meaningful as the destination. To make change happen we can take heart from Lord Tennyson’s words in Ulyses. We have to be:

“… Strong in will,
to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Nishi K Mukerji