Half a century after Cheetahs went extinct in India, the Environment Ministry will introduce 50 cheetahs into Indian forests over the next five years, The Environment Minister unveiled a plan for the introduction of Cheetah in India at the 19th meeting of the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
As per the action plan, a cohort of around 10-12 young cheetahs that are ideal for reintroduction shall be imported from Namibia or South Africa as a founder stock during the first year. Environment Minister Bhupendra Singh said that the Prime Minister is keen on the protection and conservation of seven major big cats, including Cheetah.
The country's last spotted cheetah died in Chhattisgarh in 1947 and it was declared extinct in the country in 1952. The Supreme Court had earlier given its approval to introduce African cheetahs to suitable habitats in India on an experimental basis.
The plans to introduce African Cheetahs into the Indian environment had gone into limbo in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic and successive lockdowns.
Among the 10 surveyed sites in five central Indian States, Kuno Palpur National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh was rated high on the priority list for the introduction of a cheetah because of its suitable habitat and adequate prey base. A team from the Wildlife Institute of India, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, doctors and veterinarians from the Kuna national park along with the staff had to go to Savannah for training.
As per the plan, the central government, along with the ministry of environment and the Cheetah Task Force, will create a formal framework to collaborate with the governments of Namibia and/or South Africa, through the Ministry of External Affairs.
Considered among the top predators, with African cheetah relocation, the government aims to restore the threatened ecosystem and conserve the species in India.