After 8 Namibian cheetahs, India now working to get big cats from South Africa
The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) said that India is now working with South Africa to bring cheetahs from there
New Delhi: After Namibian wild cheetahs, India might soon get to see South African felines roaming free in the wilds of the country. Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) has said that India is now working with South Africa to bring the big cats from there.
For the unversed, India brought eight cheetahs – three males and five females – aged between two and six years to India. After covering an over 10-hour, 8,000-km transcontinental journey on the Boeing 747 jet, the carnivores were set free in their new home in Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh.
The Namibian cheetahs were released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, which was also his 72nd birthday.
“After the eight cheetahs from Namibia arrived on Sunday, India is working with South Africa for more. Also, Namibia is going to send more cheetahs over the coming years,” Dr Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director, Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), who coordinated the translocation of cheetahs from Namibia was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
He further said, “This is the only population of cheetahs actually large enough to use for reintroduction and to establish a population, we must bring in more.”
Dr Marker, an American expert, has been an advisor to the Indian government on the cheetah relocation project over the past 12 years, and CCF has been in charge of the project cheetah on behalf of the government of Namibia.
A report by The Indian Express quoted Dr Marker saying that she first carried out a cheetah relocation project from Namibia to South Africa in 2005. She added that South Africa now has nearly 1,000 individuals.
“Since cheetahs do attack livestock, the biggest threat to the cheetah I would say, and to conservation projects like reintroduction in India, is from farmers trying to defend their livestock. But there are methods to deal with this, including keeping herders, guardian dogs, and keeping livestock healthy and strong so they don’t get picked up by cheetahs,” the report quoted Dr Marker as saying.
In India, cheetahs made a comeback with a new reintroduction program on Saturday (17 September, 2022) after going extinct in the country over 70 years ago. In 1952, they were declared extinct in India.
The release of the eight wild cheetahs was a part of a larger plan to reintroduce the big cats to their former range. In January, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change announced that the government’s plan to release 50 cheetahs into Indian national parks over the next five years.
Dr Maker had said that the Namibian cheetahs, which are now in Madhya Pradesh’s national park, have been selected based on an assessment of their health, disposition, hunting skills, and ability to contribute genetics that will result in a strong founder population. She also said that the big cats are adaptable and would be able to deal with climate conditions in India.
With inputs from agencies
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