In what Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav described as a “momentous event in India’s wildlife conservation history,” one of the translocated cheetahs has given birth to four cubs at Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park.
These are the first cheetahs born in India in at least 75 years. Reportedly, another cheetah called Asha is also pregnant and expected to deliver cubs soon.
The happy news comes within three days of the death of another translocated cheetah, Sasha, due to a kidney ailment at the park.
The cubs have been born to a cheetah called Siyaya. Sharing a photo and a video of the cubs on Twitter on Wednesday (March 29), Yadav wrote, “Congratulations (India). A momentous event in our wildlife conservation history during Amrit Kaal!”
A momentous event in our wildlife conservation history during Amrit Kaal!
I am delighted to share that four cubs have been born to one of the cheetahs translocated to India on 17th September 2022, under the visionary leadership of PM Shri @narendramodi ji. pic.twitter.com/a1YXqi7kTt
— Bhupender Yadav (@byadavbjp) March 29, 2023
Shot in the arm for Project Cheetah
Eight cheetahs were brought to Kuno from Namibia last September as part of the government’s ambitious plan to reintroduce the big cats in India.
In a follow-up tweet, he wrote, “I congratulate the entire team of Project Cheetah for their relentless efforts in bringing back cheetahs to India and for their efforts in correcting an ecological wrong done in the past.”
Also read: Two more Namibian cheetahs released into wild at MP’s Kuno National Park
The Asiatic cheetah got wiped out from India due to hunting and habitat loss in the 1940s. The last known cheetah died in Koriya district of what is now Chhattisgarh in 1947 and, five years later, the species was declared extinct.
Glimmer of hope after gloom
“The cubs are safe in a pre-release enclosure. When the mother cheetah brings out the cubs into the open, we’ll know their gender,” JS Chouhan, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests & Head of Forest Force, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, told news agency ANI.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had released the first batch of eight cheetahs in Kuno on his 72nd birthday on September 17, 2022, with much fanfare. Five of the cheetahs were female and three male.
A second batch of 12 cheetahs were brought in from South Africa and released into Kuno on February 18 this year.
Watch: South African cheetahs relocated to India
The death of the four-and-a-half-year-old Sasha was a big setback to Project Cheetah. However, the birth of the four cubs has now come as a ray of hope after the gloom.
(With agency inputs)