Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the popular Bandipur Tiger Reserve has sparked controversy after he was unable to see any tigers during his 22-kilometre safari. The incident has caused a stir among some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and senior Forest department officials who blamed the driver, Madhusudhan, for choosing the wrong route. Reports suggest that the registration of the vehicle used for the safari has been cancelled due to the incident.
According to a senior BTR officer, the personnel conducted security checks before the official visit and observed tigers in the area. However, the Prime Minister was only able to see pugmarks and no tigers. Officials have explained that the felines may have relocated to safer and calmer areas due to the constant traffic of vehicles passing through the reserve.
Some more glimpses from the Bandipur Tiger Reserve. pic.twitter.com/uL7Aujsx9t
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 9, 2023
The Prime Minister’s security team, which included the Special Protection Group (SPG), local police, and anti-Naxal forces, had gone on several safaris on the same route for five days before the PM’s excursion. The security personnel were almost entirely responsible for disturbing the animal’s movements, causing them to relocate.
After the safari, the Prime Minister expressed his disappointment to BTR authorities for not seeing any tigers or wild animals. He was informed of the reason for this and turned to his security team, reminding them that they had denied him a tiger or wild cat sighting.
The BTR staff reportedly requested the security team to let the route remain undisturbed on the night before the PM’s visit to ensure that animal movements were not hindered. However, the security team insisted that the PM’s vehicle be in the middle of the convoy, causing the animals to relocate.
The incident has raised concerns about the impact of VIP visits on wildlife conservation efforts in India. The BTR authorities have urged visitors to respect the wildlife and follow the rules to ensure the protection of the animals in the reserve.