Cheetahs coming to India may be further delayed

Even as the Indian team that went to Namibia for initiating the process for bringing cheetahs to India has returned, it may still be months before the African wild cat whose Indian counterpart has been extinct since last seven decades can be introduced.

It was February 17, after a delay of over two years, a five member Indian team had travelled to Namibia to bring cheetahs to India for relocating them to Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park.

The team comprised one officer each from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change headquarters in Delhi, the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Wildlife Institute of India, the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, and the Madhya Pradesh government.

One of the members, WII’s Dr Y.V. Jhala, said the trip report would be filed in a day or two by the NTCA Director. The team visited locations to see over five dozen cheetahs.

Asked about the timeline when the cheetahs are expected to land, Jhala said, it is uncertain and may take months. “The governments of India and Namibia have initiated the process of signing an MoU for the cheetah translocation. But there needs to be a lot of legal whetting done and that may take some time before the actual MoU is signed,” he said.

A total of 12-14 cheetahs are intended to be brought from South Africa/Namibia/other African countries over a period of five years as per the Action Plan. It would include about 8-10 wild males cheetahs and 4-6 wild females.

Brainchild of former Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, the project was originally planned and launched in 2010.

The cheetah was declared extinct from India in 1952; currently there are no cheetahs in any national park or wildlife sanctuary in India. Cheetah is the only large carnivore to have become extinct in independent India.

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