The ambitious cheetah reintroduction project in India, which began on September 17, 2022, is about to enter a new phase. The project, which initially had 20 cheetahs arrive from South Africa and Namibia, has faced several challenges, leading to the decision to exclusively bring in additional cheetahs from South Africa.
Since the project’s inception, the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh has seen the survival of 14 of the initially translocated cheetahs, including a female cub. However, the project has faced backlash over the deaths of some of the cheetahs due to health issues and criticism of the management team.
South Africa to send more Cheetahs to India
According to Down to Earth, SP Yadav, the additional director general of forests at the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, and the head of the project, stated, “We are planning to bring 12 to 14 cheetahs from South Africa after careful selection, taking due care of health parameters and adaptability in the Indian habitat.”
The project’s focus will now shift towards bringing over more fertile female cheetahs to encourage breeding. “Ideally, we would like to see all female cheetahs have a litter,” Yadav said.
Experts in Namibia raised concerns regarding cheetah management and the handling of the project, which partially attributes the decision to source cheetahs exclusively from South Africa rather than Namibia.
New cheetahs to Gandhi Sagar
Despite the challenges and concerns, SP Yadav remains optimistic about the project’s future. He said that cheetahs born on Indian soil would better adapt to local weather conditions and learn about the behavior of the cheetah population in this geographic region.
Furthermore, the new batch of cheetahs is expected to find a new home at Gandhi Sagar Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. Currently, preparations for this move are well underway, and the site is anticipated to be fully prepared by the end of the year.
Furthermore, there have been discussions about opening a cheetah safari for the public. Yadav states that this project is in its early stages, and they are acquiring an area of 150 to 200 hectares for it. They expect the process to take at least one year, and they will source animals for the safari from zoos or captivity, following the guidelines of the Central Zoo Authority.
Despite the challenges and criticisms, the cheetah reintroduction project in India continues to strive for success and the revival of the cheetah population in the region.
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