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Date not confirmed for cheetah arrival from Namibia

NewsDate not confirmed for cheetah arrival from Namibia

New Delhi: The Indian government has signed a landmark agreement on Wildlife Conservation and Sustainable Biodiversity Utilisation to facilitate the transfer of new cheetahs from Namibia to India by 15 August. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), and the Wildlife Institute of India are responsible for bringing back the cheetahs, officials said.
Initially, 10-14 cheetahs will be brought to Kuno National Park (KNP), Madhya Pradesh, but the officers are not aware of the exact dates.
“Everything depends on the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change, NTCA, and WII. Till now, we haven’t received any mandatory dates. In the first year, 10-14 cheetahs will arrive and within five years, around 50 cheetahs will be brought,” an official at Kuno national Park told The Sunday Guardian.
The cheetahs were declared extinct in 1952 due to habitat loss and poaching. Cheetahs live in open plains; their habitat is primarily grasslands, scrubs, and open forest systems, as well as semi-arid environments with generally warmer than usual temperatures. In order to save cheetahs, it would be necessary to protect not only their prey base, which includes some threatened species, but also other endangered species found in open forest and grassland ecosystems, some of which are in danger of going extinct.
There are also no records of human-cheetah conflicts and cheetahs do not attack livestock either.
The translocation will take place either on a commercial airline or a chartered flight. Cheetahs will be driven to Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno Palpur National Park (KNP). KNP also has tigers, lions, and leopards; these animals have a history of co-existing with cheetahs. The other recommended sites are Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh; Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary-Bhainsrorgarh Wildlife Sanctuary complex, Madhya Pradesh; Shahgarh bulge in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan; Mukundara Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan.
The genetic subspecies of Indian cheetahs were found to be similar to cheetahs in Iran. As per several reports, India refused to export Asiatic lions in exchange of cheetahs; therefore, the decision to purchase cheetahs from Iran was ultimately abandoned in 2010.
It has been observed that the cheetahs from South Africa have genetic diversity amongst the existing population and all other cheetah lineages, including those found in Iran, are discovered to descend from the Southern African cheetahs.
As per the analysis conducted according to MaxEnt Model, cheetahs from South Africa have a high probability of sustainability in KNP.
“Project Cheetah” will be the first intercontinental species reintroduction between India and South Africa. On a relocation project, Prof Tordiffe and Prof Leith Meyer, director of the Centre for Veterinary Wildlife Studies at UP, are collaborating with the WII and the Indian Tiger Conservation Authority. Additionally, 12 cheetahs have been sourced and are being prepared for translocation by Vincent Van Der Merwe, who oversees the cheetah metro population in South Africa. Cheetahs have also been exported to Mozambique and Malawi from South Africa; as per reports, some cheetahs may also return to South Africa soon to ensure an exchange of genes.
The NTCA has pointed out that the reintroduction of the cheetah is important so as to conserve the threatened species and ecosystem function restorations. However, several conservationists have argued that the step is a violation.
“KNP may be a suitable place for the cheetah, but this step is a violation of the 2013-Supreme Court order. The SC had ordered to shift lions to Gujarat. The lion rehabilitation project started in 1993; due to the rehabilitation project, the Saharian tribes of KNP were relocated and now the officials are bringing cheetahs to shut down the issue of Asiatic lion relocation. This is also an injustice to the local tribe and also it shows a systematic failure of the government,” Ajay Dubey, a wildlife conservationist, told The Sunday Guardian.

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