Cheetah reintroduction plan: Discussions with Namibia fruitful, says Indian team official

11:58 AM Feb 28, 2022 | PTI |

Bhopal: The discussions with officials in Namibia on the plan to reintroduce cheetah in India have been ”fruitful” and modalities are being worked out to bring the feline to the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, said a member of the team which recently visited the African country.


Cheetah, the world’s fastest land animal, became extinct in India about 70 years ago and the plans to reintroduce the big cat into the wild here again are being worked out.

A delegation, comprising officials of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the Government of India and the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, had left for Namibia on February 17 to discuss various issues, including the relocation logistics. The team recently returned after having the discussions.

“Our talks with the Namibian counterparts were fruitful. It was a platform of discussion between the two governments. The modalities to bring the cheetah from Namibia are being worked out,” the official told PTI on Monday.

The Namibian government has some concerns. They had sent a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), he said. ”First, there has to be a consensus. We have put forth our stand, that we can do this. Madhya Pradesh has a limited role – like are we ready to receive (cheetah) or not? The state has already has made preparations in Kuno,” the official said. India has plans to introduce 50 cheetahs over the next five years, possibly 10 each year, with 10-12 big cats to be brought from Namibia and South Africa as ”founder stock” during the first year, officials earlier said. The country’s last cheetah died in 1947 in the present day Korea district of Chhattisgarh, which was once a part of Madhya Pradesh. The cheetah was declared extinct from India in 1952. The ‘African Cheetah Introduction Project in India’ was conceived in 2009, but it failed to take off for over a decade. The plan to introduce the cheetah by November last year in the Kuno National Park, spread over 750 km in Madhya Pradesh’s Chambal region, suffered a setback due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said. The Kuno National Park, located 340 km from the state capital Bhopal, has a good prey base for cheetahs.


Experts from the Dehradun-based WII visited sites in Madhya Pradesh in 2020 to look for the best habitat for the introduction of the African cheetah. The Supreme Court had in January that year approved the plan to introduce cheetahs in a suitable habitat on an experimental basis. The SC had also set up a three-member committee to guide the NTCA on the cheetah introduction project. The WII team had visited the Kuno National Park in Sheopur, Nauradehi sanctuary in Sagar and Gandhi Sagar sanctuary on the northern boundary of Mandsaur. MP was home to cheetahs in the past and it also has a successful animal translocation record, a reference to the reintroduction of tigers in the Panna Reserve in 2009, according to officials. The cheetah is considered vulnerable under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list of threatened species, with a population of less than 7,000, found primarily in the African savannas.


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