Core vs Buffer safaris


The concept of core zones and buffer zones is commonly heard tiger reserves. Thus it is necessary to understand the role of this categorization and how they differ from each other. At India, tiger reserves are managed by local forest department as per guidelines of National Tiger Conservation Authority. Thus it is concept proposed by NTCA and its implementation is done by state forest department. Here we will try to understand its meaning in simple language and try to understand the difference so that we can take decision on doing jungle safaris in core zones or buffer zones.

Core zone Buffer zone difference

Core Buffer Strategy

In order to ensure better protection to wildlife with least human disturbance, strategy of core-buffer forest was introduced by wildlife experts. In this strategy, whole tiger reserve area was divided into core forest and buffer forest. As per this strategy, central part of forest was marked as core forest. It is critical tiger habitat thus put is core forest category with rule of making it undisturbed from human intervention. It means here we will not have sighting of village cattlem villagers and any commercial hotel. The layer of forest, surrounding to core forest is declared as buffer forest area with mixed land. It works as protective layer for core forest and separates it from outer world.

Difference between core zone safari & buffer zone safari

While going for jungle safari booking, we are often asked for core zone safari or buffer zone safari. Many times when core zones permit get sold out, our agent or hotel says that we can offer you safaris in buffer zones. Thus in such situation, for a normal visitor, question arises what is the difference between core zone safari and buffer zone safari. Thus we should know the difference to enable use to take right decision as per right understanding of safari zones category. Lets analyze some major differences:

  • Safari charges: Safari charges of core zone is always higher than buffer zone safari charges. It is basically due to high demand of core zone safaris, among tourists.
  • Border sharing: Core zone forest is basically a central forest thus it is having only one layer of border, shared with buffer forest area only. In case of buffer zones forest, we will notice that it has 2 layered border system in which inner border is shared with core zone forest and outer border is shared with outer world. Thus it acts as a protective layer which avoids direct connection between core zone and outer world.
  • Sharing safari: At core safari zones, park management of Madhya Pradesh forest department, offers both sharing and non-sharing mode of safari. Where as in buffer zones, we will get only non-sharing mode of safaris.
  • Canter safari: At core zone, some of the national parks of Madhya Pradesh offers canter safari option. It is as per tourism pressure thus offered in popular national parks like Pench national park, Bandhavgarh, Kanha national park. Where as canter safari option is not available in buffer zones of any of the national park in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Night safari: Option of night safari or later evening safari is available in buffer zones only thus we can't do night safari in core zones.
  • Villages presence: While doing jungle safaris drives, at some points, we may have sighting of villagers with cattle, doing free grazing. Such scenes often surprise us how they entered into forest area, making there life in risk. Actually core zones are village & hotel free forest area but in buffer zone forest area, presence of villages and resorts is possible, as per rule. Thus during core zone safari, we may not have cattle sighting or whenever we will have then it means we are currently passing through buffer forest area. At buffer zone safari, cattle and human sighting is possible.