The new batch of 12 Cheetahs will come from South Africa to Gwalior (at 10 am on Saturday) using a C-17 Globemaster aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF), and onwards to Kuno National Park (at 11 am on Saturday) in Madhya Pradesh using Mi-17 helicopter. The IAF aircraft left the Hindon air base in Uttar Pradesh Thursday morning for South Africa to pick up the Cheetahs.
A delegation of Cheetah experts, veterinarians and senior officials from both India and South Africa will be accompanying the felines during the transcontinental translocation exercise. Post arrival in India, all 12 cheetahs will be housed in specially created enclosures at Kuno National Park for completing the mandatory quarantine period where the animals will be intensively monitored.
The 8 cheetahs who came to India in September 2022, under the ambitious and visionary planning of PM Shri… https://t.co/gm7VS8Tk57
— Bhupender Yadav (@byadavbjp) 1676542810000
Earlier on September 17 last year, the first batch of eight Cheetahs was translocated to Kuno National Park from Namibia. All Cheetahs from the first batch are keeping well except the one named ‘Sasa’. As per the action plan for Cheetah reintroduction in India, annually at least 10-12 cheetahs are required to be imported from African countries for the next five years.
“Eight Cheetahs who came to India in September last year have adapted well (to their surroundings). India is now ready to welcome 12 more Cheetahs from South Africa,” said environment minister Bhupender Yadav while announcing the translocation details on Thursday. The 12 Cheetahs will be released in Kuno National Park on Saturday by Yadav and the Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
“The goal of the Cheetah introduction project in India is to establish viable cheetah metapopulation in India that allows the Cheetah to perform its functional role as a top predator and provide space for the expansion of the cheetah within its historic range thereby contributing to its global conservation efforts,” said Yadav.
The last Cheetahs in the Indian wilderness were recorded in 1947 where three Cheetahs were shot in the Sal (Shorea robusta) forests of central India. The main reasons for the decline of Cheetah in India were large scale capture of animals from the wild for coursing, bounty and sport hunting, extensive habitat conversion along with consequent decline in prey base. Cheetahs were declared extinct in India in 1952.
MAJOR OBJECTIVES OF THE CHEETAH INTRODUCTION PROJECT
- To establish breeding cheetah populations in safe habitats across its historic range and manage them as a metapopulation
- To use the cheetah as a charismatic flagship and umbrella species to garner resources for restoring open forest and savanna systems that will benefit biodiversity and ecosystem services from these ecosystems
- To use the ensuing opportunity for eco-development and eco-tourism to enhance local community livelihoods
- To manage any conflict by cheetah or other wildlife with local communities within cheetah conservation areas expediently through compensation, awareness, and management action