The media has been abuzz with news about the arrival of cheetahs in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park on the occasion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 72nd birthday on September 17.
However, the resulting displacement of the Adivasi residents of Bagcha village located in the national park and the legal validity of the resettlement processes being carried out under the Wildlife Protection Act have not received quite as much attention.
The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 aims to conserve wild animals, birds and plants in forests by establishing protected areas such as sanctuaries and national parks such as Kuno.
Madhya Pradesh holds some of India’s largest protected areas and has a large population of Adivasni and other forest-dwelling communities who have borne the brunt of wildlife conservation.
A bill passed in the Lok Sabha on August 2 to amend the Wildlife Protection Act has sought to increase the number of protected species in line with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and increase penalties for violations of the law.
While the amendment has been discussed in the context of wildlife conservation in Lok Sabha, it leaves out much of the lived realities in which the act operates. It has scarcely touched upon how the amendments will affect…