A senior official from the Union Environment Ministry in India announced on Friday that an agreement has been reached with South Africa to translocate 12 cheetahs to the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh.
The pact was signed last week and seven male and five female cheetahs are expected to reach Kuno by February 15, the official said.
The 12 South African cheetahs have been in quarantine for more than six months and were expected to reach Kuno this month but the transfer was delayed as “some processes in South Africa took some time”, the official said on condition of anonymity.
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Cheetah is the only large carnivore that got completely wiped out from India due to over-hunting and habitat loss.
The last cheetah died in Koriya district of present-day Chhattisgarh in 1947 and the species was declared extinct in 1952.
Under the Cheetah reintroduction programme, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had released the first batch of eight eight spotted felines – five females and three males – from Namibia into a quarantine enclosure at Kuno on his 72nd birthday on September 17 last year.
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According to the Action Plan for Reintroduction of Cheetah in India prepared by the Wildlife Institute of India, around 12-14 wild cheetahs (8-10 males and 4-6 females) 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.
(With agency inputs)