After 70 years, India will see cheetahs on their soil. The Government of India has signed an MoU to bring 8 cheetahs from Namibia and 12 from South Africa. Under this, 8 cheetahs will be brought to India in two batches. The total cost of this project is estimated at around Rs. 91.65 crore. India’s top oil firm IOC will give Rs 50.22 crore for this project as a CSR (Corporate social Responsibility).
During a session in the Rajya Sabha, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State in the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change disclosed that seven of the eight cheetahs imported from Namibia are still alive. The initial phase of the project, spanning five years, is anticipated to incur an estimated cost of Rs. 91.65 crore, as outlined in the plan to reintroduce cheetahs in India.
However the exact cost of the project is not known because When a question was asked in the Lok Sabha regarding the expenditure on the Cheetah project, Union Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey had said that Rs 38.70 crore has been allotted for this.
Kuno is Preparing for Cheetahs arrival
Kuno sanctuary has been selected in Sheopur near Gwalior for this project. All preparations have been made to receive the first batch of cheetahs here on the 17th of September.
Apart from this, India will also get 12 cheetahs from South Africa, for which an agreement has been signed between the two countries, the final agreement is yet to be signed.
When Indian Cheetah went extinct?
The last cheetah sighted in India was in 1952, which was hunted in Chhattisgarh. Now after 69 years, preparations are being made to resettle cheetahs in India again. It aims at wildlife conservation and sustainable biodiversity utilization.
This will be the world’s first intercontinental wild-to-wild cheetah transfer. 100 years ago, the Kuno Sanctuary of Madhya Pradesh used to be home to cheetahs, where foreign cheetahs would be resettled.
Why Kuno Sanctuary?
The Supreme Court had entrusted the selection of suitable sites for cheetahs to a panel which, after surveying 10 sites in 2010-2012, selected the Kuno Sanctuary as a Habitat of Cheetah.
One of the reasons for choosing Kuno Sanctuary was that the government had already invested a lot to settle the Asiatic Lions here. For this, highly secured semi-captive cages have been made in an area of 500 hectares. Around 24 villages have been shifted for this project.
Kuno is all set to welcome Cheetahs
Preparations for the arrival of cheetahs have been completed. A special van has been prepared for this. Cheetahs will be brought from Gwalior airport by keeping them in cages. The male and female will be kept separately for the first two months so that they get used to the environment. Both males and females will be from different countries so there is no blood relation between them. When two cheetahs of the same blood form a relationship, they are susceptible to a variety of genetic diseases. That is why cheetahs with different blood genes are coming to India from Namibia and South Africa.
The Environment Ministry has issued a statement stating that the aim of the Cheetah Translocation Project is to establish a viable meta-population of the animal in the country, allowing it to perform its functional role as a top predator, and providing space for the expansion of the cheetah within its historical range, thereby contributing to its global conservation efforts.
Questions being raised
In 2013, the Supreme Court ordered the settlement of Asiatic Lions in Kuno. After 15 years, the government is bringing cheetahs from Africa, whose maximum number can be up to 21, which is not self-sustaining. The government is bringing cheetahs from Africa to divert attention from the project to resettle Asiatic lions.
Specialists from India were sent to Namibia to understand the management and environment of cheetahs. A team from Namibia also came to Kuno Sanctuary and expressed satisfaction after seeing the atmosphere and arrangements here.
However, the Madhya Pradesh government does not have funds for the maintenance of this species. For this project, Indian Oil Corporation has given a fund of 50 crores under CSR. Madhya Pradesh Tiger Foundation is currently arranging 8-10 crores from the fund.
Prime Minister Modi will announce the arrival of African cheetahs to India on August 15 from the Red Fort.
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