Namibian cheetahs leave to start a new life in India
India and Namibia signed an agreement this week to bring cheetahs to the South Asian country, with the first batch of eight feral cats due to arrive next month, officials said.
India has been working on animal relocation since 2020, when the Supreme Court ruled that African cheetahs could be introduced to a “carefully chosen place” on a trial basis.
India once had Asiatic cheetahs, but the species was officially declared extinct in the country in 1952.
The deal will see Namibia’s African cheetahs be airlifted next month to a wildlife sanctuary in the central state of Madhya Pradesh for captive breeding – a move that is expected to coincide with 75th day celebrations. independence of India.
Reintroduction of the cheetah in India
“Completing 75 glorious years of independence with the restoration of India’s fastest land-based flagship species, the cheetah, will rekindle the ecological dynamics of the landscape,” India’s Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav tweeted.
“The reintroduction of the cheetah would also significantly improve the livelihoods of local communities through long-term ecotourism prospects.”
Signed in New Delhi with Namibian Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, the agreement will also see the two countries work together on climate change, waste and wildlife management.
The Kuno Palpur National Park in the state of Madhya Pradesh was chosen as a new home for cheetahs due to its abundant prey base and grasslands which have proven to be suitable for felines.
“The primary objective of the Cheetah Reintroduction Project is to establish a viable cheetah metapopulation in India that enables the cheetah to fulfill its functional role as a top predator,” the Ministry of Environment said in a statement.
Fewer than 7,000 cheetahs in African savannahs
The cheetah is the only large carnivore thought to be extinct in India, mainly due to hunting for its distinctive spotted skins and habitat loss.
Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo is widely believed to have killed the last three recorded cheetahs in India in the late 1940s.
India is also considering shipping cheetahs from South Africa, but a formal pact has yet to be signed.
Considered Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the cheetah has a declining population of less than 7,000 individuals, found mainly in African savannas.
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