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India to import over 100 cheetahs from South Africa

India and South Africa have reached a deal for transfer of more than 100 cheetahs to India (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@bernabephoto)

South Africa has announced that it has reached a deal to transfer more than 100 cheetahs to India which forms part of the Narendra Modi government’s ambitious project that started with the import of 8 Cheetahs from Namibia in September.

South Africa’s environment ministry said on Thursday that an initial batch of 12 cheetahs would be flown to India next month, according to an AFP report.

“The plan is to translocate a further 12 annually for the next eight to 10 years” to help establish a “viable and secure cheetah population,” the ministry said in a statement.

The cheetahs that will be flown to India are in the meantime living in quarantine.

“The cheetahs in quarantine… are all still doing well,” the AFP report cited Pretoria University wildlife specialist Adrian Tordiffe as saying.

The cheetah became extinct in India 70 years ago, before which the fastest animal was even kept as a pet by royal princes to hunt prey.

The cheetahs are doing well in their new home at Kuno in Madhya Pradesh. Wildlife enthusiasts in the country are expected to be allowed to see them soon.

The cheetahs were put through a mandatory quarantine after they arrived from Namibia after which they were released to a bigger enclosure for further adaptation to the Kuno habitat. This is the first time ever that cheetahs have been moved across continents.

While initially they were fed buffalo meat they have since started hunting natural prey in Kuno National Park.