More than 70 years after they became extinct in India, eight cheetahs landed in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, from the Namibian capital Windhoek around 8 a.m. of Saturday. It has been nearly 70 years since the last cheetah died in India and this translocation is the culmination of years of efforts between Indian and Namibian scientists to successfully relocate the animals to India.
The arrival of the cheetahs, five females and three males from Namibia, is seen as a highlight take on a celebration in the country. After being declared extinct 70 years ago, the first batch of five or six cheetahs will be moved from South Africa to Indian lands under the intercontinental plan. These cheetahs will be taken to Kuno National Park, Madhya Pradesh.
India and Namibia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to reintroduce the African cheetah to India. The Center announced that these big cats will be transported to Madhya Pradesh in August. To know more about the cheetahs, read our tweet thread here.
“The primary goal of the cheetah reintroduction project is to establish a viable metapopulation of cheetahs in India that will enable it to perform its functional role as an apex predator,” said a statement from the Indian Environment Ministry. The arrival of the cheetahs is expected to coincide with India’s 75th Independence Day celebrations on August 15, 2022.
Why African Cheetah will not survive in India?
Imported African Cheetah will be the first to roam India in decades, but critics of the project say the big cats have little chance of surviving without constant human intervention.
Even if we look beyond this technicality, it should be noted that the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), with which India has partnered to reintroduce big cats, has done nothing of the kind outside of the African continent. But many wildlife experts and conservationists have raised questions about the feasibility of the whole exercise.
Leading conservationist Valmik Thapar is not sure if cheetahs will survive in the wild in India. “We don’t have the habitat or prey species for free-roaming wild cheetahs,” Thapar told IndiaSpend. “Authorities have no experience or understanding of cheetahs in the wild.
- African cheetahs, if released in Kuno, will survive only short-term and that too if frequently baited. India was never the natural home of African cheetahs. They were imported, domesticated and trained to hunt. They were pets of royalty.
- Historically, for 300 years we haven’t had a healthy population of cheetahs other than those that run away from people’s homes. I don’t expect anything from this project and I think We must take care of our own indigenous species and not focus money or manpower on exotic aliens.”
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- We do not have a natural habitat for free-ranging cheetahs in India and no prey base for a proper food cycle.
- African Cheetahs, if released in Kuno, will survive only short term and that too if they are baited frequently.
- India was never the natural home of African cheetahs.
- Authorities have no experience or understanding of cheetahs in the wild.
At present, the government is leaving no stone unturned in the maintenance of cheetahs in Kuno National Park. But the problem of poaching of valuable wildlife in India still persists.
According to the report of the World Wild Fund and the Zoological Society of London, India still remains a big stronghold for wildlife hunting. Besides hunting for ivory and rhinoceros, tiger and leopard skins, bones and other body parts still attract smugglers.
Perhaps this is the reason that before these cheetahs are brought to Kuno Park, two drone squads have been prepared whose mission will be to monitor the forest and protect the cheetahs. However, be it ‘Cheetah Mitra’ or the drone squad, there is very little time left for the actual examination of all of them to begin.
The pros and the cons of bringing African Cheetahs
- Cheetahs prefer to live in grasslands so they can become an important factor in the biodiversity of the Indian grassland ecosystem.
- The cheetah is a top predator and will help other species like the Indian bustard.
- Cheetahs have the lowest rate of human conflict.
- Cheetah tourism will help attract money that could be used for conversation.
- Due to climate change, wildlife species in India are in dire straits, in this condition it is prudent to use funds to conserve threatened species rather than reintroduce species.
- Several conservationists have opined that the cheetah reintroduction is a case of misplaced priorities; instead, the government should focus on the ever-growing list of other endangered animals.
Interesting information about Cheetah
- Cheetahs don’t roar like tigers, lions, or leopards, they don’t have the bone in their throat to make that sound, they make low sounds like cats, and sometimes they talk like birds.
- The cheetah is the fastest running animal in the world, but it cannot run at high speed for very long distances, usually, this distance does not exceed 300 meters.
- Cheetahs may be the fastest to run, but like all other cat species, they spend a lot of time slow.
- In terms of speed, Cheetahs are faster than sports cars, taking three seconds to accelerate from zero to 90 kilometres per hour.
- The cheetah’s name is derived from the Hindi word Chitti because the spotted markings on its body identify it.
- The cheetah differs from other cat species in that it does not hunt at night.
- The black streaks under the cheetah’s eyes, which look like tears, actually reflect strong sunlight, so they can see clearly even in bright sunlight.
- The Mughals liked to have cheetahs, they used to take cheetahs with them on hunts, and they used to go ahead and hunt deer.
- Cheetah was declared extinct in India in 1952, and now once again efforts are being made to resettle them in India.
- The cheetahs that have been brought to India are used to hunting on the open plains, how easy it will be to hunt them in the jungles of Madhya Pradesh remains to be seen.
India declared the cheetah extinct in the 1950s and there was not a single living cheetah left in the country. This is the first time that such a large carnivorous animal is being taken out of one continent and brought to the forests of another continent.
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