An ambitious project, India is going to reintroduce the fastest animal on earth – the Cheetah- in its historical range in the country, through an agreement signed with Namibia.
The predatory cats, which once roamed across much of Asia and Africa are now extinct in India. They would be flown to Madyha Pradesh where they will be introduced to the Kuno National Park,
PROJECT CHEETAH; REINTRODUCTION
India and Namibia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in July. Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Namibia Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah signed the agreement in New Delhi.
In 1970s, the country tried to reintroduce Asiatic cheetahs from Iran. However, the deal could not take place after a regime change in Iran following the 1979 Iranian revolution. The plan to reintroduce African Cheetah started from 2009 after a feasibility study conducted by the Union Environment Ministry and the Wildlife Trust of India found Kunho as the most suitable park for the reintroduction. However, the plan ran into hurdles as the Supreme Court stayed the reintroduction in Kunho, as the National Board for Wildlife had not been privy to the matter. However, the SC in January 2020 approved Cheetah’s reintroduction after a government plea.
PROJECT CHEETAH; IUCN
The government said that reintroduction of wild species particularly Cheetah is being undertaken as per the IUCN guidelines. However, the date for Cheetah introduction/ translocation has not been decided yet. Seized of the sensitivity of the entire process, MoEFCC said that all precautions are being taken to ensure success of the project. Upon arrival, the Cheetahs would be kept under quarantine and observed before released into the park.
PROJECT CHEETAH; THE PARK
The National park now has a 10-square-km enclosure readied for housing six Cheetas. As per the project, the Government expects to introduce around 50 Cheetahs in the wild over the next five years.
PROJECT CHEETAH; EXTINCTION
The Asiatic cheetah was declared extinct in India in 1952. It is a critically endangered species now only in Iran. In 1947, there were confirmed records of the cheetah’s presence in India. However, it is widely believed that Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo gunned down the three surviving males in 1947.
The government ignored that reports that have come up in certain sections of the media that African Cheetahs are still stuck in transit. The government said tat such reports are completely unfounded. While the agreement has been signed with the Republic of Namibia, the process of signing of MoU with South Africa is underway, the government said.
Why conservation for Cheetas acorss the world?
- human-wildlife conflict,
- loss of habitat and loss of prey,
- poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking, with cubs being taken from the Horn of Africa and smuggled into the exotic pet trade, primarily in the Gulf States.