12 cheetahs from South Africa arrive in India

The Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries had been singed in the last week of January
Prasar Bharati News Services & Digital Platform
Prasar Bharati News Services & Digital Platform

Twelve cheetahs from South Africa arrived, as scheduled, in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park (KNP) February 18, 2023. The cheetahs — seven males and five females — were flown in Indian Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster aircraft from Gauteng, South Africa to Gwalior Air Force base, from where they were airlifted to Kuno.

Of the 12, three cheetahs were quarantined in Phinda, KwaZulu-Natal while nine were in Rooiberg, Limpopo. The 12 were drated and loaded into relocation crates. Their DNA samples were taken for the South African National Biodiversity Institute. The cheetahs were hydrated with drips and fitted with collars February 17, before being flown to India.

The cheetahs were first released in quarantine bomas according to the  Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora protocol and will stay there for a month as experts closely monitor their progress. Additional bomas have been made in Kuno to accommodate all 12 cheetahs in their individual quarters.

The 12 cheetahs have joined their eight Namibian counterparts which flew to KNP September 17, 2022.

Bhupender Yadav, Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate change had said February 16 that the goal of the cheetah introduction project in India is to establish a viable cheetah metapopulation in India that allows the cheetah to perform its functional role as a top predator and provide space for its expansion within its historic range, thereby contributing to its global conservation efforts, the Press Information Bureau reported.

He added that the major objectives of the big-cat intercontinental translocation were:

  • To establish breeding cheetah populations in its historic ranges in the country
  • To use the cheetah as a flagship species to garner resources for restoring open forest and grassland ecosystems
  • To provide livelihood opportunities to locals through eco-development and eco-tourism

Around 10-12 cheetahs will be imported annually from African countries for the next five to 10 years to establish a healthy population with genetic diversity in India, according to the Action Plan for Cheetah Introduction in India.

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