Search on for second home for cheetahs at MP’s Kuno park | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Search on for second home for cheetahs at MP’s Kuno park

By, Bhopal
Apr 19, 2023 12:35 AM IST

The Madhya Pradesh government has asked the National Tiger Conservation Authority to find a second home for the Cheetahs because Kuno may not be able to accommodate more than 10 of the big cats.

The Madhya Pradesh government has asked the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to find a second home for the cheetahs because Kuno may not be able to accommodate more than 10 of the big cats, state forest department officials said.

One of the cheetahs at Kuno national park. (ANI)
One of the cheetahs at Kuno national park. (ANI)

Confirming this, the state’s chief wildlife warden, JS Chauhan, said, “We don’t want to take any risk with the cheetah project so we are looking at all the aspects and have informed the NTCA about it. NTCA and the environment ministry will take the final decision.”

The Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh’s Sheopur district received 20 cheetahs in two tranches, eight from Namibia and 12 from South Africa , starting September 17, 2022.

Of them, four were released into the wild in March. One died , and the remaining 15 cheetahs and four cubs born since are in a 6 sq km enclosure. They will be ready to be released into wild in the next three to four months, state forest department officials said.

Explaining the issue, a senior MP forest department official who asked not to be named said, “The (Kuno National) park which is spread in 748 sq kms can house only nine to 10 cheetahs.”

The official said of the four cheetahs released in the wild two , Oban and Asha , have been exploring large parts of the buffer area and that recently Oban was brought back to the park from a nearby village where he strayed.

“We have deployed two teams of 18 officials around the clock to monitor them in the wild. For monitoring 17 cheetahs in the wild, we at least 126 forest officials equipped with drones, jeeps and wireless sets,” he added.

That could disturb the park’s habitat, he said. “So, we wrote to the NTCA to arrange second home as soon as possible,” said another senior forest officer from the state who too asked not to be named.

HT reached out to NTCA member secretary SP Yadav for a comment but did not get one immediately.

The Madhya Pradesh forest department has selected Gandhisagar Wildlife Sanctuary in Mandsaur district as a second home for cheetahs but making it ready for them will take another year, officials said.

Supporting the demand of MP forest department, Wildlife Institute’s senior scientist, Qamar Qureshi, who is in charge of the cheetah project, said releasing all 20 cheetahs in Kuno was never part of the plan.

“We know that Kuno doesn’t have enough space for all cheetahs and that’s why Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary, Mukandra Wildlife Sanctuary and Gandhisagar Wildlife Sanctuary were selected as other possible homes for them,” he said. Qureshi added that the Mukandara Hills in Rajasthan is ready but that the environment ministry and NTCA will have to take a decision in this regard.

South African cheetah expert Vincent Van der Merwe added: “Mukandara Wildlife Sanctuary is the best possible site for cheetahs as it was also included in the risk management plan. It would be wise decision to release excess cheetahs in Mukandara.”

Congress MLA and Rajasthan wildlife board member, Bharat Singh, said, “I myself went with the team of WII and experts from South Africa and they said Mukandara was best place for them. “It is only because Rajasthan is a Congress ruled state,that they (cheetahs) were taken to Madhya Pradesh,” he claimed. A Rajasthan forest department official said the state is ready to accept cheetahs for Mukandara Hills provided the environment ministry approves the translocation.

The 20 cheetahs were brought from the two African countries as part of the Supreme Court approved Cheetah Translocation Project, through which the government aims to reintroduce cheetahs in the wild, 70 years after they went extinct from Indian grasslands.

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