New Delhi: The Government of India is in the process of holding consultation meeting with African countries for bringing a total of 12-14 cheetahs from South Africa, Namibia, and other African countries over a period of five years as per the Action Plan. This information was given by Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change in Lok Sabha today.
The cheetahs would be fitted with Satellite/GSM-GPS-VHF radio-collars before their release in wild so as to enable monitoring remotely, the Minister said.
About 12-14 wild cheetahs (8-10 males and 4-6 females) from various parks, reserves, areas that are ideal (reproductive age group that is genetically diverse, disease free, behaviorally sound-e.g. not overly imprinted to humans but tolerant, predator wary, capable of hunting wild prey, and socially tolerant of each other) for establishing a new cheetah population would be imported as required from South Africa, Namibia, and other African countries, as a founder stock for five years initially and then as may be required by the program.
The cheetah was declared extinct from India in 1952, currently there are no cheetah in any National Park or Wildlife Sanctuary in India.
Cheetah is the only large carnivore to have become extinct in Independent India. There are no cheetah left in wild in India, therefore, to introduce them in India they have to be brought from abroad. Cheetah has been an integral part of Indian ecosystems, a major evolutionary force, and an important cultural heritage. Their restoration will likely result in better conservation of open forest, grassland, and scrub ecosystems for which they will serve as a flagship species.
Rs. 38.70 crore under the ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger has been allocated to the cheetah introduction project for the years 2021-22 to 2025-26.
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