Gundlupet: The Forest Department’s decision to hike the entry fee and camera fee at Bandipur National Park from Nov.1 has taken a toll on visitors as the number of tourists visiting the National Park has come down considerably.
Thousands of tourists flock the park during weekends and as such, the counters at the Park witnessed a huge rush on Saturdays, Sundays and other public holidays.
But the steep hike in the entry fee seems to have turned away the visitors, as only a few tourists have visited the Park in the past one month. With a significant drop in the number of tourists, the Safari vehicle drivers are now awaiting tourists, hoping that the number will increase as the day progresses.
While 400 tourists had visited the Park each day on Nov.28 and 29, hardly 90 tourists visited the Park on Nov.30. With a drastic drop in the number of visitors, the Forest Department is finding it difficult to even meet the salary of the drivers and maintenance of vehicles. Also, the death of tiger ‘Prince,’ which was a darling of Safari goers and the increasingly rare sight of wildlife, seems to have taken out the sheen of Bandipur National Park.
The hike in Safari entry fee from Rs.300 to Rs.350, the stipulation of Rs.500 fee for all sorts of cameras, exorbitant vehicle parking fees and the hike in room rents, have all taken the toll on the number of visitors.
The fee at Bandipur National Park is also higher when compared to other Wildlife Parks nearby. Also, the food at the Park is costly, with lunch costing Rs. 100, tea/coffee Rs. 20 and chats Rs. 50 each.
The Mudumali Forest range located just 15kms away from Bandipur, charges only Rs. 135 for a 45 minute safari.
The other forest destination en route to Ooty is Masinagudi, where jeep drivers vie with eachother in stopping vehicles that ply on the road, to take the passengers to the safari.
The jeep drivers take around the tourists up to Moyar, where wild animals can be seen from a close range. The drivers who take 6 to 8 tourists in a single trip, totally charge them Rs.600.
On the way from Masinagudi to Moyar, tourists can see wild animals coming to drink water in the canal that runs from Masinagudi to Moyar.