12 more cheetahs to arrive on Saturday in IAF aircraft from Africa
The arrival of the second batch of cheetahs from Africa will take their total count to 20 at Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park
Twelve more cheetahs will arrive in India from Africa on Saturday, taking their total count to 20 at Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park, the Union Environment Ministry said on Thursday.
The second batch of cheetahs are coming five months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicked off the world’s first inter-continental cheetah translocation project on September 17 last year by releasing eight cheetahs brought from Namibia to the Kuno National Park.
On Thursday, an Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft C17, also known as ‘Globe Master’, has taken off from Hindon airport at 6am. It is expected to land at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo airport on Thursday evening and take off with the 12 cheetahs on Friday evening. The selected cheetahs are coming from Phinda Game Reserve in Kwazulu Natal (2 male, 1 female) and Rooiberg Game Reserve in Limpopo Province (5 male, 4 female).
“They have been in quarantine and they are now ready for transportation. Several cheetah experts and veterinary doctors from South Africa are also coming with them. On February 20 we will also have a conference meeting in Kuno with the international cheetah experts including representatives from the Cheetah Conservation Fund. This will show us the way forward and help us assess on whether we are on the right track,” said SP Yadav, director general (wildlife).
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) with South Africa A states that the African country can provide 10 to 12 cheetahs every year for the next ten years for India’s Project Cheetah. “We have a goal of creating a sustainable and viable meta population in India which is around 40 individuals. We will consider Cheetah Programme a success when we have a viable population of 40 cheetahs and there is successful breeding every year,” Yadav added.
The government launched the ambitious “Project Cheetah” with the goal of reintroducing the species to its former habitat in India, 71 years after the last recorded cheetah was hunted down in Chhattisgarh in 1952.
Earlier this month, civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said the central government is planning to translocate 14 to 16 more cheetahs to India over the next few months under the second phase of “Project Cheetah”.