The Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) in the Nilgiris was reopened to tourists on Saturday. It remained closed for nine months due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials from MTR said that the decision to reopen the tiger reserve was taken by the government after consulting the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden.
Strict protocols have been established to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission among visitors, officials said.
Visitors have been told to wear either a triple-layer or N95 mask without fail and they will be made to undergo a thermal scan before being allowed to enter. They should carry a valid ID proof, and disclose any existing medical conditions and travel history. Safari vehicles will only be allowed to operate at 50 % capacity, while rest houses can be occupied by only a maximum of two persons and dormitories will be only at 50 % capacity, officials said.
Vehicle safaris will be operational between 6.30 a.m to 10 a.m and between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. The elephant camp will be open to tourists from 8.30 a.m to 9 a.m and from 5.30 p.m to 6 p.m, with only a maximum of 30 persons allowed to enter.
People exhibiting any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter, officials said.
The Mudumalai Tiger Reserve was closed in March 2020, along with other tourist places in the Nilgiris. Starting from September, the district gradually once again opened up for tourism. With the reopening of the tiger reserve, all tourist spots that were closed due to the pandemic in the Nilgiris are now open.