Two helicopters carrying eight cheetahs reached Palpur near Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday, following their arrival in Gwalior from Namibia in a special plane as part of the programme to reintroduce the feline in India seven decades after it was declared extinct in the country.
The plane carrying the felines from Namibia landed at the Gwalior airbase shortly before 8 am, an official said. A modified Boeing aircraft, which took off from the African country Friday night, carried the cheetahs in special wooden crates during the around 10-hour journey.
The animals were later taken to Palpur near the KNP in Sheopur district, 165 km from Gwalior, in two helicopters. At the KNP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is celebrating his birthday on Saturday, will release three of the cheetahs in quarantine enclosures of the park at 10.45 am.
During their journey from Namibia to Gwalior, the cheetahs remained without food and will be given something to eat once they are released in the enclosures, an official said.
‘Great news’: PM Modi on 2 cheetahs released in acclimatisation enclosure at MP’s Kuno National Park
A dais has been set up in the Park under which special cages carrying cheetahs will be kept and Modi will release three of them in an enclosure by operating a lever.
After that, other dignitaries will release the remaining cheetahs in other enclosures, he said. The cheetahs were brought in a special flight of Terra Avia, an airline based at Chisinau, Moldova in Europe that operates chartered passenger and cargo flights.
The Park is situated on the northern side of Vidhyachal mountains and is spread across 344 sq km.
Officials battled heavy rain, inclement weather and some blocked roads to complete the preparations for Modi’s programme to release the big cats in their new home in Kuno.
Two days before Modi’s arrival, heavy rain lashed the Gwalior-Chambal region of Madhya Pradesh.