I would like to start with the conclusion: Does Man have the right to play God?
History can conclusively prove that we are trying to play God - the all knowing, all conquering; the alpha species on Planet Earth. Being the dominant species with possibly the maximum impact on the planet - we have taken and we continue to take decisions which are detrimental to environment.
Today the political class and conservationists to an extent need to understand that getting sentimental about bygone eras wont serve any purpose. We cannot conserve everything under the Sun; we need not conserve everything under the Sun. We need to understand that some species in the current environment are perhaps a evolutionary misfit. They have literally reached their evolutionary cul de sac / dead-end!
I have been closely following the news about the MoEF Minister's proposal to reintroduce cheetah to India again. As said earlier though intentions are noble, the idea is clearly symbolic and largely a political bluster.
Does reintroduction of the Cheetah have any positive ecological / conservation related impact? Would Rann of Kutch (most likely candidate for the relocation) benefit - apart from more tourist flowing in? Do we have the manpower to open yet another line of fire with the poachers?
Most ecosystems in India are already under considerable duress. There is no reset button in the conservation story; once damaged it takes years, if not decades to bring about a status quo. Our tactical and strategic goal should be the same - leave the wild habitat ALONE. Hence, reintroducing a high profile star feline and expending precious resources in conserving it does not serve any purpose. Now is the time to micro-manage our existing ecosystem and make sure they are "healthy"!!!
Its time we let go of the Cheetah relocation and reinvigorate Project Tiger or any other conservation program.
But who decides whether a particular species is required or not required? Me, you? Which brings me to back to my conclusion: Do we have the right to play God.