South Africa signs deal with India to send over dozens of cheetahs in the next decade


Cape Town: After the first were moved from neighbouring Namibia last year, South Africa has reached a deal with India to relocate dozens more African cheetahs to the Asian nation over the following ten years, its environmental department announced on Thursday, as per Reuters report.

About 70 years ago, a huge cat species like the cheetah went extinct from India.

On the first go, wild cheetahs have been transported across continents for release, eight radio-collared African cheetahs were released at Kuno National Park in central India in September after travelling 5,000 miles (8,000 km) from Namibia.

“An initial batch of 12 cheetah are scheduled to be flown from South Africa to India in February 2023,” South Africa’s environmental department was reported saying.

These big cats will also join those that were introduced from Namibia.

“The plan is to translocate a further 12 annually for the next eight to 10 years,” the department statement added.

According to a release by the Indian environment ministry last year, “The Southern African cheetahs are found to be ancestral to all the other cheetah lineages…Hence, this should therefore be ideal (for reasons stated above) for India’s reintroduction programme.”

To establish a healthy and secure cheetah population, it is intended to relocate an additional 12 animals per year for the following eight to ten years.

India was once home to the Asiatic cheetah but the animal was declared extinct there by 1952, primarily because of habitat loss and deaths at the hands of hunters seeking their distinctive spotted hides.

Efforts to reintroduce the animals gathered pace in 2020 when India’s Supreme Court ruled that African cheetahs, a different subspecies, could be brought into the country at a “carefully chosen location” on an experimental basis.

Negotiations for the deal with South Africa were long in the making, with the first cheetahs initially expected to be flown to India last August. They have been living in quarantine in the meantime.

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