12 cheetahs to be flown in from South Africa on February 18: Env minister Bhupender Yadav

12 cheetahs to be flown in from South Africa on February 18: Env minister Bhupender Yadav

As part of the government’s ambitious cheetah reintroduction programme, twelve cheetahs will be flown in from South Africa on February 18. This announcement was made by Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav on Thursday (February 16).

On September 17 last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had released the first batch of eight spotted felines – five females and three males – from Namibia into a quarantine enclosure at the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, on the occasion of his 72nd birthday.

Presently, the eight cheetahs at Kuno are killing a prey every three-four days and are in good health, officials said. One of the cheetahs was unwell as her creatinine levels had shot up but she has recovered after treatment, they said.

India and South Africa had in January signed an MoU to transport cheetahs from the African country and reintroduce them in Kuno. A majority of the world’s 7,000 cheetahs live in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. Namibia has the world’s largest population of cheetahs.

Also read: Relocation of cheetahs from S Africa to India comes 3 years after it was first mooted

The cheetah is the only large carnivore that got completely wiped out from India, mainly due to overhunting and habitat loss. The last spotted feline died in 1948 in the Sal forests of Chhattisgarh’s Koriya district.

Following the import of the 12 cheetahs in February, the plan is to translocate further 12 annually for the next eight to 10 years. The terms of the MoU will be reviewed every five years to ensure it remains relevant, the environment ministry said.

Also read: India signs pact with South Africa to bring 12 cheetahs in February

According to the Action Plan for Reintroduction of Cheetah in India prepared by the Wildlife Institute of India, around 12-14 wild cheetahs that are ideal for establishing a new cheetah population, would be imported from South Africa, Namibia and other African countries, as a founder stock for five years initially and then as required by the programme.

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