Cheetahs in India were declared extinct in 1952 as a result of excessive hunting. The Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change recently announced the launch of the 'Action Plan for Introduction of Cheetah in India, under which 50 of these large cats will be brought over the next five years. The action plan was unveiled at the National Tiger Conservation Authority's 19th meeting (NTCA).
History of Cheetah in India
During the reign of Mughal emperor Jahangir in the 16th century, India was the first country in the world to breed cheetahs in captivity. During the reign of his father, Akbar, there were 10,000 Cheetahs in India, with 1,000 of them in his palace.
According to a BBC article, there were an estimated 230 Cheetahs in India in the environment between 1799 and 1968. The animal, which could be found across the country except for the high mountains, was pursued for bounty as well as sport in those days. According to reports, cheetahs were eradicated in huge numbers during British control because the cheetahs would penetrate towns and slaughter cattle.
Desertification, which may have robbed the animal of its natural environment, has been blamed for its extinction.
Project to Introduce Cheetahs in India
The "Action Plan for the Introduction of Cheetah in India" was released by the Union Ministry of Environment during the 19th meeting of the National Tiger Conservation Authority. Within the next five years, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plans to bring 50 African cheetahs from Namibia.
The project has been in the works for a decade but is finally moving forward after the Supreme Court granted the Union Government of India permission to proceed in January 2020. Although the original idea was to import the Asiatic Cheetah from Iran, because of recent events in the two nations' international ties, the plan was amended to bring African Cheetah instead.
In the first year, 10-12 young Cheetahs in India will be presented as founding stocks. The first sighting of these cheetahs was in Madhya Pradesh's Kuno Palpur National Park (KNP).
They'll be imported with the help of the Ministry of External Affairs from Namibia and/or South Africa. Each one of these Cheetahs will be fitted with a radio collar that includes a built-in satellite GPS.
Even though the cheetah was extinct long before this law was enacted, it is listed in Schedule 2 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972.
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Development of Cheetah in India Project
The Cheetah Task Force does not have a timeline for relocating the Cheetahs in India. The relocation efforts will begin as soon as the arrangement between the governments of India and South Africa as well as Namibia is finalised.
The infrastructural developments for the Cheetahs at Kuno Palpur National Park are nearly complete. To keep predators away from the newcomers, fencing is being installed. Security cameras have also been placed to keep an eye on the cheetahs' activity and surroundings.
Features of Cheetah in India
The cheetah is the speediest land mammal, with speed records of 93 and 98 kilometres per hour (58 and 61 mph). It is classified as a large cat and is a member of the Felidae family.
The Cheetah in India is the only great animal that has gone extinct, owing to previous overhunting in India. India now has the financial means to contemplate recovering its lost natural heritage, both ethically and environmentally. The conservation of cheetahs will revitalise grasslands, their biomes, and their habitat.
FAQs on Cheetah in India
Q.1. Is it still possible to see Cheetahs in India?
No. Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo, the monarch of the ancient Koriya state, slaughtered the last three Cheetahs in India in 1947.
Q.2. Are Cheetahs in India going to be reintroduced?
Yes, The Indian government has chosen to reintroduce cheetahs as part of the 'Action Plan for Introduction of Cheetahs in India.'
Q.3. How many cheetahs are expected to arrive under the Cheetah in India project?
Around 50 African cheetahs are projected to roam the plains of India by 2026 under the Cheetah in India project.
Q.4. Why don't there seem to be any Cheetahs in India?
The Asiatic Cheetah in India was proclaimed extinct after the death of the last remaining population; it is the first animal in recorded human history to become extinct in India due to human activity.
Q.5. In which state Cheetahs in India were spotted?
The first sighting of Cheetahs in India was in Madhya Pradesh's Kuno Palpur National Park (KNP).