12 cheetahs set to arrive in Madhya Pradesh from South Africa

PTI, Feb 18, 2023, 9:13 AM IST

Twelve cheetahs will be brought to Madhya Pradesh from South Africa on Saturday morning and will be released into quarantine enclosures at the Kuno National Park (KNP) in Sheopur district. These cheetahs – seven males and five females – comprise the second set of big cats coming to the KNP, the first set of eight from Namibia having been released on September 17 last year at a function by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

As per the plan, these felines will arrive at the Gwalior air base around 10 am. From there, they will be flown to the KNP around 12 noon in an Indian Air Force helicopter. They will be put into quarantine bomas (enclosures) after half an hour (12.30 pm), an expert had said.

These animals will be released into the KNP by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Union minister Bhupender Yadav.

KNP Director Uttam Sharma has said they have set up 10 quarantine bomas for the South African cheetahs. In two of these facilities, two pairs of cheetahs would be kept.

Experts said a delegation from South Africa had visited the KNP in early September last year to see arrangements at the wildlife sanctuary for housing the world’s fastest land animals.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between India and South Africa last month for the translocation of the mammals.

India had planned to airlift these South African cheetahs in August last year, but could not do so due to the delay in signing a formal translocation agreement between the two countries.

The eight cheetahs from Namibia – five females and three males – are currently in hunting enclosures at the park before their full release into the wild.

As per Indian wildlife laws, a month-long quarantine is mandatory before importing animals and they are required to be kept in isolation for another 30 days after arrival in the country.

The last cheetah died in India in Koriya district of present-day Chhattisgarh in 1947 and the species was declared extinct in 1952.

Former Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh had initiated ‘Project Cheetah’ in 2009 under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government with an aim to reintroduce the wild cats in India.

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