50 Cheetahs

CSM STAFF WRITER

After becoming extinct in 1952, the cheetah is set to return to India as the central government yesterday launched an action plan under which 50 of these big cats will be introduced in the next five years.

Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav launched the action plan at the 19th meeting of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) saying, “The Cheetah that became extinct in independent India, is all set to return.” The plan to reintroduce cheetah had gone in limbo due to COVID-19, an NTCA official had earlier said.

As per the action plan, a cohort of around 10-12 young cheetahs that are ideal for reintroduction shall be imported from Namibia or South Africa as a founder stock during the first year.

“An existing coalition of wild males shall be selected while the selected females shall also be known to each other as far as possible.”

“The animals’ lineage and condition shall be checked in the host country to ensure that they are not from an excessively inbred stock and are in the ideal age group, so as to conform to the needs of a founding population,” said the over 300-page action plan.

Among the 10 surveyed sites in five central Indian States, Kuno Palpur National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh was rated high on the priority list for introduction of cheetah because of its suitable habitat and adequate prey base. As per the plan, the central government, along with ministry of environment and the Cheetah Task Force, will create a formal framework to collaborate with governments of Namibia and/or South Africa, through the Ministry of External Affairs.