CHEETAHS IN INDIA
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Context: Officials are trying to complete the first transfer to Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park before August 15
More on the news:
- The cheetah is the only large carnivore that got completely wiped out from India, mainly due to over-hunting and habitat loss.
- India came one step closer to bringing back the world’s fastest animal, which has been extinct in the country since 1952, with an agreement that was signed in Delhi on between the government and the visiting Namibian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations, Netumbo Nandi Ndaitwah.
- The agreement, which has been negotiated for some years, will prepare the ground for the relocation of the first batch of cheetahs from southern Africa to Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park, with officials trying to complete the first transfer before August 15.
- While the current carrying capacity for the Kuno National Park is a maximum of 21 cheetahs, once restored the larger landscape can hold about 36 cheetahs
- The carrying capacity could be further enhanced by expanding the area to other parts of the Kuno wildlife division.
- Kuno had earlier been identified for the translocation of Gujarat’s Gir lions, but the State government has refused to allow the Gir’s lions to be transferred out, despite a Supreme Court order rejecting its pleas.
- The project for the cheetah was put back on track in 2020 when the Supreme Court lifted a stay on the original proposal to introduce African cheetahs from Namibia into the Indian habitat on an experimental basis.
- In May 2012, the court had stalled the plan to initiate the foreign cheetahs into the Kuno sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh fearing they would come into conflict with the plan for bringing lions into the same sanctuary.
- The court had also expressed concerns about whether the African cheetahs would find the sanctuary a favourable climate.
- The government said special programmes were being conducted to educate local villagers in Kuno including outreaches to sarpanches, local leaders, teachers, social workers, religious figures and NGOs, with a local mascot named “Chintu Cheetah” to sensitise populations to the importance of the project and guidelines for the cheetah-human interface.
Need of re-introduction:
- Cheetah became the only large carnivore to have gone extinct in India in the 1950sdue to hunting and loss of habitat.
- Action Plan for Introduction of Cheetah in India’, is an effort to bring the world’s fastest cat backto the country after 70 years.
- Source:Wildlife Institute of India and the Wildlife Trust of India, are translocating around 8-12 cheetahs from South Africa, Namibia and Botswana – which have the world’s largest populations of the animal.
- Destination:The big cats will live at Kuno Palpur National Park in Madhya Pradesh as it is most suitable for cheetah translocation in terms of habitat and an adequate prey base.
Kuno national park:
- Located in: Madhya Pradesh, India.
- Also known as Kuno-Palpur and Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary.
Action Plan for Introduction of Cheetah in India’ details:
- A cohort will be imported from Namibia and each of them will be fitted with a satellite-GPS-very high frequency radio-collar.
- The animals’lineage and condition shall be checked in the host country to ensure that they are not from an excessively inbred stock and are in the ideal age group, so as to conform to the needs of a founding population.
- Ministry of environment and the Cheetah Task Force, will create a formal framework to collaboratewith governments of Namibia and/or South Africa, through the ministry of external affairs.
- The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is a large cat native to Africa and central Iran.
- It is the fastest land animal, capable of running at 80 to 128 km/h.
- Habitat:The cheetah occurs in a variety of habitats such as savannahs in the Serengeti, arid mountain ranges in the Sahara and hilly desert terrain in Iran.
- Threats:Habitat loss, conflict with humans, poaching and high susceptibility to diseases.
- Protection status:It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
- Re-introduction:Cheetah was declared extinct from India in 1952 and is considered the only large mammal that has gone extinct since the country's independence. If the cheetah is reintroduced, India would become probably the only country in Asia to have all the major big cats in the wild (lions, tigers and leopards included).