Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Parochialism : Hindrance to Wildlife Conservation

Crucial wildlife conservation projects are stalled due to parochialism which still persists in United India. Take the case of Asiatic Lion translocation from Gir in Gujarat to Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh. 

Known as Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project the exercise to trans-locate a pride of lions is a Government of India initiative.  According to Wildlife Institute of India the project envisaged fetching the endangered animal out of isolation and prevent extinction due to disease transmission (epidemics), natural disasters, development projects and severe man animal conflicts.   

Earlier, before the decimation of the Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica) due to excessive hunting and takeover of land, the species was spread out to many parts of Northern and Central India.  Today the lions are restricted to Gir National Park in Gujarat. Nowhere else outside India does the Asiatic Lion survives and its safeguard and conservation has become all the more crucial.

From last remaining population of about twenty two lions the population has grown to more than five hundred animals. This was a commendable conservation effort. But due to paucity of protected area in the last stronghold the predators are roaming in and around human habitations in an area of approximately 20, 000 square kilometers. This movement is a cause of concern to naturalists and conservation fraternity as man animal conflicts could lead to serious consequences for the beleaguered cat.  

Palpur Kuno in Madhya Pradesh

After an intense study Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary was found suitable for scientific lion reintroduction - a contingency plan to save the Asiatic Lion from extinction. Taking enough time the State Government with assistance of Central Government the Kuno habitat improvement took place keeping all aspect of the endangered cat's survival. Eventually the habitat with increased pray base was ready for the reintroduction exercise.     

Gujarat Government Opposition 

The lion reintroduction has so far not taken place due parochialism that prevails. The Gujarat State Government came out with number of  issues related to the habitat and conservation practices in MP.

The Government considers the population of lions as a matter of State pride and heritage. Another contention that was put was that the predators have never been trans-located  successfully. This does not apply to present context as advance scientific means of translocation and rehabilitation in new environment are in practice.  The reintroduction of tigers at Panna and other places speaks contrary to it being a failure. The Government's attitude is nothing but a negative thought which we have still not done away with.  


The project is now stalled in a quagmire of legal proceedings, and it seems extrication from this would take a long time if ever. As far as translocation and rehabilitation is concerned we are much better placed with institutional support and backing of advance scientific techniques. The project should be completed as envisaged since conservation is a win win situation for the Nation and the critically endangered animals.      

In a surprising turnaround in June 2015 MOEF declared the project as  not viable. This was based on some grounds.  

It is up to the Gujarat Government to show a positive attitude and co-operate in the exercise for reintroduction of Asiatic Lions to Palpur Kuno. Wildlife conservation should take prominence since it is the matter of survival for beleaguered animals in India and not that of  heritage of pride.    

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