- Mention about the Cheetah reintroduction plan.
- Discuss the benefits of reintroduction.
India has a long history of cheetahs. During Mughal Period, the cheetahs were used extensively for hunting. Mughal Emperor Akbar had 1,000 cheetahs. People in Central India, particularly Gwalior State and Jaipur State, used to hunt with cheetahs. The last three cheetahs living in the country were killed in 1947 by the ruler of erstwhile Koriya state in present day Chhattisgarh. The species was officially declared extinct in India in 1952.
Action plan for Cheetah reintroduction in India:
The Government of India would bring 50 Cheetahs over the next five years to form a founding population of the species. Further, former cheetah-range states, i.e. Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh would be duly analysed by the experts.
As part of the plan, India will be translocating around 12-14 cheetahs from South Africa, Namibia and Botswana to Kuno Palpur National Park in Madhya Pradesh. Kuno National Park has been chosen because of its suitable habitat and adequate prey base. It is devoid of human settlements and is estimated to have a capacity to sustain 21 cheetahs. Each of these cheetahs would also be fitted with Satellite/GSM-GPS-VHF radio-collars before their release in the wild so as to enable monitoring remotely. This could be the world’s first intercontinental cheetah translocation project.
- The cheetah used to live and thrive in the Indian Subcontinent for centuries, hence their reintroduction is a realistic step. Further, the proposed location of Kuno is a woodland and cheetahs have been known to survive in woodland.
- In saving cheetahs, one would have to save not only its prey-base comprising certain threatened species, but also other endangered species of the grasslands and open forest ecosystems.
- It is also observed that among large carnivores, conflict with human interests is lowest for Cheetahs. They are not a threat to humans and do not easily attack large livestocks.
- Reintroduction of a flagship species like Cheetah would attract a significant amount of tourism to the cheetah range states. This would give a boost to other sectors like transportation, hotels etc. and also generate additional jobs.