ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Reintroduction of the Asiatic Lion

Precedence of Politics over Rule of Law

The population of the Asiatic lion is confined only to Gujarat, and constitutes a single population that is vulnerable to extinction. In 2013, the Supreme Court directed that a second home be created for the Asiatic lion in Kuno–Palpur Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. However, no concrete steps have been taken in this direction.On the contrary, regressive policy changes have been carried out with the clear objective of undermining the Supreme Court’s judgment.

The recent controversy over the shifting of mugger crocodiles from their habitat near the Statue of Unity in Gujarat for tourist “safety,” has generated controversy (Sinha 2019). It is not clear as to whether the legal procedures under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 were followed or not. However, the eagerness of the Gujarat government to shift the crocodiles on the presumption that it will cause danger to tourists, is to be contrasted with its vehement opposition to the shifting of few endangered Asiatic lions from Gujarat to a proposed second home in Kuno–Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh (MP). The reluctance of Gujarat to part with Asiatic lions assumes a serious dimension in view of the death of a sizeable number of lions due to the outbreak of suspected canine distemper (Ghosal 2018).

Compounding the issue further is the fact that establishing the second population of the Asiatic lion in MP is not just a policy decision but a judicial direction in view of a specific Supreme Court judgment (Centre for Environmental Law, W W-F India v Union of India 2013) which recognised the critical importance of establishing the second population of Asiatic lion outside Gujarat. Though the Supreme Court directed that the process of reintroduction of lions should be completed within six months of the judgment, no concrete steps have been taken till now. This article aims to identify the key reasons why the reintroduction of Asiatic lion has failed to take off despite directions from the highest court of the land. Specifically, the article examines changes in conservation priorities with respect to the Asiatic lion in the last few years and the impact it has on the reintroduction of the Asiatic lion in MP.

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Updated On : 31st May, 2019
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