Welcome back: Cheetahs to make a re-entry in India

NAIROBI, June 15, 2019 (Xinhua) -- A cheetah looks for food at Samburu National Reserve, north of Kenya, June 14, 2019. The Samburu National Reserve is located in northern Kenya, covering an area of approximately 165 square kilometers. It attracts animals because of the Ewaso Ng'iro river that runs through it and the mixture of acacia, riverine forest, thorn trees and grassland vegetation. Grevy's zebra, gerenuk, reticulated giraffes and beisa oryx here are more than those in other regions of the country. The reserve is also home to lions, crocodiles, baboons, elephants and hundreds of bird species. (Xinhua/Li Yan/IANS)
A cheetah looks for food at Samburu National Reserve, north of Kenya. Photo: IANS
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Jaipur: If sources are to be believed, cheetahs shall be coming to India soon. They will be air-lifted either from South Africa or from Namibia.

This fastest running predator which became extinct in the country during the 1950s, are set to be relocated and may be put up either in Madhya Pradesh or in Rajasthan.

Bihar too have showed interest to host the Cheetahs, officials informed.

A video conferencing among officials and Ranjitsinh, a prince from Wankaner in Saurashtra, and a 1961 IAS batch officer, was held on September 30, 2020 to chart out a plan.

Ranjitsinh has been raising his voice for cheetah's re-entry in the country since last many years, environmentalist Harsh Vardhan told IANS adding that he was nominated as the chairman of a three-member committee formed by the Supreme Court.

Y.V. Jhala, Dean at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), has also been nominated to head the Cheetah-team for inspecting habitats where the predator can be rehabilitated, said Harsh adding that the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is appointed as the new Cheetah-Office in India via the Supreme Court Order.

A sum of Rs 2.5 crore has been sanctioned to WII by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to facilitate this wild cat's entry into India.

The Asiatic Cheetah survives in Iran only and as this country is disinterested to part with it to any country, the only option left is the African Cheetah and South Africa and Namibia are apparently willing to export to India, he informed.

Lauri Marker, founder-head of Cheetah Conservation Foundation in Namibia, visited India last February and discussed diverse aspects of the project with some key players.

Many questions, however, are left unanswered including if the forest officials have re-examined the impact of this fastest running animal in Indian conditions

This animal basically needs open and scrub habitat promising a grass cover and abundant feed. However, India lacks such large tracts of habitats which does exist in its African homes. Hence, the feed quotient raises yet another question which is "Will village population face the brunt in the suggested areas," questions Harsh.

"What will the villagers feel when the predator will pick up their sheep, goat, poultry, etc?" Harsh asks. Have the Indian foresters chalked out any plan in this perspective. Presently, there is tigers vs the villagers. Now will Cheetah add to worries or solve them, he asks.

Cheetahs are endangered species, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites). Around 7,100 cheetahs are left in the wild.

The Asiatic cheetah, which once roamed in different parts of India, are now found in Iran.

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