In 1952, India announced that cheetahs were extinct in the nation owing to a variety of factors such as poaching and coursing. Since then, the government has been trying actively to reintroduce cheetahs to India.
The Indian government has inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the South African government to bring in over 100 cheetahs over the next decade. India will receive 12 cheetahs every year, with the first ones coming in February 2023.
The environment ministry said an initial batch of 12 cheetahs would be flown to India next month, after eight cheetahs arrived from Namibia last September.
"The plan is to translocate a further 12 annually for the next eight to 10 years" to help establish a "viable and secure cheetah population," the ministry said in a statement.
The move is being coordinated by several departments and organisations working for the conservation and restoration of big cats, like the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment in collaboration with the South African National Biodiversity Institute, South African National Parks, the Cheetah Range Expansion Project and the Endangered Wildlife Trust in South Africa together with the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Wildlife Institute of India, according to the Indian government's press release.
The MOU also states that the two countries will collaborate and exchange best practices for the conservation of cheetahs through the transfer of technology, training of professionals in management, policy, and science, and establishing a bilateral custodianship arrangement for cheetah translocated between the two countries.
The Big Cats
The February 2023 batch of cheetahs:
Previously, eight cheetahs, five females and three males were introduced into the Kuno National Park in the Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh on September 17 last year. Since then India has been eagerly waiting for this MoU.
Not an easy agreement: It took an order from India's Supreme Court, which decided in 2020, that African cheetahs, a rare subspecies, might be allowed into the nation at a "carefully chosen area" to pace up the efforts to reintroduce the animals.
Since then, discussions for an agreement with South Africa have been ongoing and are now complete.
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