Quick understanding of premium zones in Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks for Tiger Safari in India.
Many tourists have no idea about the concept of premium zones. So this is the most frequently asked question by all of them visiting Bandhavgarh and Kanha. I thought of penning down and explaining this myth of safaris in premium zones.
Tala zone in Bandhavgarh and Kanha zone in Kanha were made premium zones by the forest department about 4 years back. They were made premium zones by just doubling the entry fees to these zones. The obvious question is why was this done? The forest department realized that tourism was increasing in these zones more because good Tiger sightings were happening here. Everybody used to buy tickets for these zones and converge to the areas where the Tiger was being sighted.
Hence the Forest department took a decision to regulate tourism and ensure that there is no unnecessary pressure on tourists in certain areas of the park. This decision compulsorily forced the tourists to visit other zones as well. So, not only the forest department succeeded in diverting tourism but also by increasing the entry fees they increased their own revenues. A master stroke indeed.
This decision showed very positive results in just two years’ time. The tourists were forced to visit the other zones as well. This resulted in more tracking of Tigers in the entire tourism area. Results showed up. Tiger sightings improved in practically all the zones. Tigers are present everywhere in the park, and they, fortunately, do not understand the premium and nonpremium zones. The benefits of this decision were improved Tiger sightings in Magadhi and Khitauli in Bandhavgarh and Kisli, Mukki, and Sarhi zones in Kanha.
In 2014 things started to change a bit. Tiger sightings reduced considerably in the premium zones. Reasons for the shifting of Tiger sightings cannot be predicted or controlled. Nature has its own script which is tough for us to decipher. Subsequently, the sightings improved in the nonpremium zones, so tourists started to visit them. This was also more economical for them after all. Mission was accomplished for the forest department. They wanted the tourism to get distributed and their initiative got approval from mother nature. The craving for safaris in premium zones was reduced.
Hence from the 2015 season, the nonpremium zones became the preferred zones by tourists. But no one knows what nature has in store in the future. The Tiger sightings can switch again, and most likely they will. They change with factors like changing the male-female ratio, plus new cubs, or any new dominant male etc. So let this not be the final verdict. But i will update you in some time on how the sightings are happening in various zones.
Which zone to book?
If you wish to make the most of your safaris, then visit all the zones of a national park. it will give you a complete idea about the national park. Besides, they all have Tigers, and they will show up at some point in time. Do not be fixed on a particular zone until and unless your focus is a particular Tiger. Having said this, I do understand that when you spend your precious resources you definitely wish to see Tigers. Hence based on our past experiences if you let us decide for you, then there are healthy chances that you will sight a Tiger.
Update on 22nd August 2016: The premium zone concept has been scrapped by the forest department. Now, all the zones have the same entry charges. This is great news in today’s circumstances.
Want to know more about the top 5 national parks for tiger safari in India? Visit the page to learn more about each national park – climate, top zones, the best time to visit, pricing, packages, and more. Or you can Explore our Kanha, Bandhavgarh & Golden Triangle Tour which includes both national parks for a perfect tiger sighting experience.