Panaji: Creating reserves is not the only way to conserve tigers, liquor baron and Rajya Sabha member Vijay Mallya said here Tuesday.
Mallya was speaking at an event at the 41st International Film Festival of India (IFFI) being held here.
He said that tribals living within the Bilgiri Rangana wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka were protecting tigers in their unique way and making the area a tiger reserve would actually upset the delicate balance they had preserved over centuries.
"If they are displaced, then there will be no protection for them," Mallya said, adding that he had raised the issue in parliament recently.
Located in the Chamrajanagar district of Karnataka, the Bilgiri Rangana wildlife sanctuary is a protected forested area and has been shortlisted as a tiger reserve by the union ministry for environment and forests.
Mallya said that forest dwellers can exist along with tigers and there was no need to displace the tribes.
"They have been living together for centuries. Frankly, when I did more research, I myself began to think. It is easy to say protect the tiger and declare as many areas as you can as sanctuaries. I started thinking and my own eyes started opening," he said, adding that initially he was supportive of making the area a tiger reserve.
"The flip side is there are many adivasis living in this area who actually protect the tiger and they say that if they are displaced, then there will be no protection for the tigers, who would be exposed to poachers," he said.