In news that is bound to bring happiness to lots of wildlife lovers, the wildlife wing of Satkosia Tiger Reserve is planning to establish two more ecotourism hubs inside the reserve.
Two sites, namely Kanakei in Mahanadi wildlife division and Binakei in Satkosia wildlife division, have been selected by the forest officials for the development of the ecotourism hubs. Mahanadi gorge will play host to the two sites as both the sites will be located here, even though on opposite banks. Official sources have also informed that the eastern parts of the gorge will have its own ecotourism sites with the wildlife wing picking Badmul and Baliput.
An interesting thing about the two spots is that they are named after the presiding deities of the villages in the nearby area. Consequently, the spots have a spiritual angle to them and will help bring in additional footfalls. As for Kanakei, before it was chosen as an ecotourism hub it was used by the locals as a picnic spot. Also with the wildlife wing of the forest department looking to engage the locals in the ecotourism drive so that they can earn their livelihood, Kanakei will be off limits for picnics.
Anshu Pragyan Das, divisional forest officer, Mahanadi wildlife division, while speaking on the latest developments, said that separate routes will be opened for tourists to arrive at the spots. This she said was necessary because tourist movement along the existing road, which passes through the core area of Satkosia, will disturb the wild animals. In all likelihood, the villagers of Atalsara will be brought on board to facilitate ecotourism. She said that they are in the process of forming an eco-development committee which will also include villagers as members. These are very healthy signs because apart from getting the opportunity to earn their livelihood, the villagers will get to play an active role in the development and maintenance of the reserve which many of them know like the palms of their hands.
Elaborating more, she said that considering Kanakei and Binakei are located on either side of the bank and opposite to each other, boating facilities will be made available for tourists. However, instead of concrete structures that one can see in Tikarpada, tents will be put up for accommodation. It is not like anyone would be grudging the chance to stay the night in a tent under a moon-lit sky in the natural splendors of the reserve though! Meanwhile, the food served at these tents will be prepared by the villagers.
It may be mentioned that Satkosia already has three ecotourism sites – Tarva, Tikarpada and Chhotkei, and all of them have been very popular with the tourists as can be concluded from the impressice footfalls. For the convenience of tourists, tents were put up in Tarva in November last year.
Satkosia field director Anup Nayak emphasized upon the point that due to ecotourism activities, and especially due to the involvement of villagers, poaching and illegal fishing, among others, have seen a steady decline. In addition dependence on the forest among villagers living in the buffer and core areas has come down dramatically. To make things more tourist friendly, he went on to add that, they are even planning to create makeshift accommodation on the sand on both the sites.
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