Lost and Found- Cheetah’s revival to the Indian sub-continent, but at the Cost of What?
Long declared as extinct from the tropical climate of the Indian subcontinent, due to the dearth of habitat and over-hunting, Cheetah, was the only carnivorous animal that suffered such a crisis.
It was not until now, that the whole “Action plan for introduction of Cheetah” was put into force by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 17th September, a date that also marked the PM’s 72nd birthday.
Cheetahs as a species is known for its least intervention with the homo sapiens habitat and its limited or almost no scavenging for cattle and livestock. They live in open grasslands, and require space enough to roam in semi-arid environments like forest lands, where their prey reside.
A profound boon to reviving the ecosystem equilibrium, the species have been (on the very date mentioned above) introduced to the Kuno Palpur National Park, in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh as a beginning of the initiative, known to have been brought from Windhoek, the capital of Namibia.
While attempts have to be made with respect to preserving and conserving the potential preys of the big cat, the Sheopur-Shivpuri district which is devoid of “human settlement” still is the habitat the Sahariya adivasis, who are residents of the Bagcha village, the Vijaypur block of the Sheopur district. While settlements have been relocated to an extent, a place of inhabitation has not been sought for the Sahariyas who fall under the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group(PVTG). Attempts to relocate the Bagcha village residents had earlier been enforced when in 2018, the KNP was declared a national park.
However, in the process a number of resident’s names were obliterated from the list to which several of them objected to the extent of filing a letter of “apatti” or “objection”. Gutti adivasi has claimed a share of benefits that was being denied to him alongside declaring his son Rambabu, dead. His fight with the district administration to prove his son’s existence is ongoing and pending. The fact that several names from the village\ have been completely wiped for the claims of compensation for the village is indicative of the negligence that the adivasi group has been subjected to.
One of the residents has also exclaimed at the plight of having to prove their abode in the village after having survived the hardships and rugged conditions of the landscape for about two decades now. Although the government is providing a 15-lac relief package to each family combined with access to around 5 acres of land for housing, construction and agricultural facilities; a committee is also going to be commissioned to look into the concerns and the eligibility of the registered beneficiaries for the said claim. While room for the Cheetah’s arrival to revive the ecosystem balance is being made, the cost of hindering and undermining the lives of the indigenous group should be incurred simultaneously.