Karnataka gets in touch with its wild side
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 The year 2017 will see Karnataka getting in touch with its wild side. In a bid to promote wildlife tourism, the State Tourism Department on Saturday announced 2017 as the ‘Year of the Wild’.

 The year 2017 will see Karnataka getting in touch with its wild side. In a bid to promote wildlife tourism, the State Tourism Department on Saturday announced 2017 as the ‘Year of the Wild’.

The campaign looks to develop and promote the meandering jungle tracks, the evergreen Western Ghats, and the rich flora and fauna as a “dream destination for adventurers and naturalists”.

The Tourism Department has identified nine eco-trekking routes in Western Ghats areas, which would be legally open to tourists and trekkers. Trekking routes will be created, and trained nature guides will accompany and educate tourists about nature conservation.

While wildlife experts have welcomed the announcement, they have cautioned against commercialisation of Karnataka’s eco-sensitive spots.

The initiative was launched by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday, along with Priyank Kharge, Minister of State for IT, BT & Tourism; A.N. Mahesh , Chairman JLR; Secretary Tourism, Naveen Raj Singh, IAS; N. Manjula, Director, Tourism; and Kumar Pushkar, MD, Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC).

Vinay Luthra, Chairman, Karnataka Eco-Tourism Development Board, said conservation could not be the domain of forest officials alone. Public participation is equally important.

This can only be done by bringing them closer to wildlife. “However, while developing wildlife tourism, the department itself must be careful about eco-senstitive zones,” he said.

The campaign will also ensure that around 20 camp sites in forest areas, managed by the Forest Department, which have not yet been developed, would be put to good use.

However, the Forest Department has not been made part of the campaign. “We have not received any communication about the campaign,” said a senior official from the department.

Mobile App launched (box)

The KSTDC has launched a mobile application, which is available on Android platform. Soon, an IOS version will be introduced.

The app will allow tourists to make reservation at the KSTDC Hotels, jungle lodges and the Golden Chariot, besides book tour packages. It will also provide information about hotels and facilities and location of restaurants, ATMs, petrol bunks, among others. The app also contains a database of all the trained and certified tourist guides in the State.

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