India gets more cheetahs to revive natural ecosystem

MUMBAI, 19 Feb 2023:

India yesterday welcomed the arrival of 12 more cheetahs from Africa as part of a programme to reintroduce the species in the wild, over seven decades after its extinction from the country.

“Today 12 more cheetahs are coming,” said Shivraj Singh Chauhan, the chief minister of the state of Madhya Pradesh – where the cheetahs will be kept.

Eight of the big cats had already been brought to the country in September.

After a short quarantine period, the newly arrived cheetahs will be eventually released in the state’s Kuno Palpur National park, which is spread over 748 sq km and has a low human presence, abundance of water, and a large number of herbivorous species.

These factors were considered key for the cheetah’s survival in its new habitat.

The reintroduction of these felines is part of a programme launched in January 2022 by the government of India, which aims to release 50 of these animals in different parts of the country over the next five years.

India has now imported 20 cheetahs from African countries as part of the project, which is seen as an opportunity to increase the diversity in fauna and boost tourism, with people expected to flock to see the earth’s fastest animal.

The specimens introduced as part of the Project Cheetah have arrived from different African countries such as South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.

The Asiatic cheetah was declared extinct in India in 1952 due to poaching and natural habitat destruction.

Experts have proposed the reintroduction of the African species instead of the Asiatic, which only survives in Iran and is extremely endangered, with less than 20 animals sighted in recent years.

In May, Iranian authorities reported the birth of three cheetah cubs – marking the first-ever birth in captivity for the species.