12 more cheetahs brought to India from South Africa, released in Kuno | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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12 more cheetahs brought to India from South Africa, released in Kuno

By, Bhopal:
Feb 18, 2023 11:48 PM IST

The cheetahs, seven males and five females from South Africa, were released into quarantine enclosures at the Park, five months after the first batch of eight cheetahs arrived here from Namibia under the same project

At around 12 noon on Saturday, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan released 12 cheetahs into the Kuno National Park in Sheopur, marking the culmination of the second leg of the much-watched intercontinental translocation of the felines.

A Cheetah brought from South Africa was released in an enclosure at Palpur, Kuno National Park, Madhya Pradesh, in Sheopur, Saturday. (PTI)
A Cheetah brought from South Africa was released in an enclosure at Palpur, Kuno National Park, Madhya Pradesh, in Sheopur, Saturday. (PTI)

The cheetahs, seven males and five females from South Africa, were released into quarantine enclosures at the Park, five months after the first batch of eight cheetahs arrived here from Namibia under the same project.

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Releasing two cheetahs from the fresh batch into the wild, Chouhan thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi “for his vision” for the project.

“Today, the number of cheetahs is going to increase in Kuno National Park. I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the bottom of my heart, for his vision. Twelve cheetahs were released in Kuno and now, their number will increase to 20,” Chouhan said. He was accompanied by Union minister for environment and forests Bhupender Yadav, Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, and civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.

The spotted animals embarked on a journey from the OR Tambo International Airport at Gauteng in South Africa shortly before midnight on Friday.

Each cheetah was kept in a separate wooden box for the journey.

The cheetahs — fastest land animal on the planet — reached the Gwalior air base at around 10am on Saturday, on board the Indian Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster.

After their arrival in Gwalior, they were transported to KNP in Sheopur, a distance of around 165kms by road, on board two Chinook helicopters.

With their arrival, there are now 10 male cheetahs and as many females at the park.

All cheetahs are healthy and fit, Cheetah metapopulation project head Vincent Van der Merwe said.

“Food will be provided to them on Sunday. Buffalo meat will be provided to them. They will be under surveillance and medical check-up will be done,” he said.

While eight cheetahs were put up in separate quarantine enclosures, four others were kept in two bomas in pairs.

“Ten quarantine enclosures have been prepared to keep 12 cheetahs. Of these, eight are new enclosures and two are old. Apart from this, two isolation wards have also been prepared to keep cheetahs if they face any health issues. Shades have been made in all the quarantine bomas due to increase in temperature,” JS Chauhan, principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife), said.

The South African big cats will be kept in the quarantine enclosures for at least a month before they are moved into the acclimatisation bomas. A decision on it will be taken by the task force on cheetahs, officials said.

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

The Indian and South African governments signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on January 26 for the translocation of the mammals.

According to the MoU, the restoration of cheetah population is a priority for India and will have vital and far-reaching conservation consequences, which would aim to achieve a number of ecological objectives, including re-establishing the functional role of cheetah within their historical range in India and improving the livelihood and economies of the local communities.

Prime Minister Modi on September 17 last year released eight cheetahs from Namibia, in the first leg of the translocation project.

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

The project represents a key milestone for a decades-long effort to restore a species that was declared extinct in 1952, owing to poaching and shrinking grasslands.

The last cheetah was killed in Koria district of present-day Chhattisgarh in 1947. Efforts to bring the animal — the smallest of the big cats and the fastest land mammal — have been decades in the making, beginning with Indira Gandhi in the 1970s but always running into international diplomatic or legal hurdles, until now.

“The countries will collaborate and exchange best practices in large carnivore conservation through the transfer of technology, training of professionals in management, policy, and science, and to establish a bilateral custodianship arrangement for cheetah translocated between the two countries. The terms of the MoU will be reviewed every five years to ensure it remains relevant,” said the metapopulation project head.

Cheetah expert Adrian Tordiffe said, “This is a very good initiative to reintroduce cheetah in India. Translocation of cheetah on regular basis will make this project successful.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    She is a senior reporter based at Bhopal. She covers higher education, social issues, youth affairs, woman and child development related issues, sports and business & industries.

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