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Namibia sending 40 cheetahs for India’s national parks

A mother cheetah with her cubs in Etosha National Park, Namibia. The African nation has agreed in principle to translocate 40 of these felines to India (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@Chrisvb700)

The dream of seeing cheetahs roaming in India is on the path of becoming a reality as the African nation Namibia has agreed in principle to give 35 to 40 of these felines for translocation here.

Talking to TOI, Yadvendradev Jhala the Dean of Wildlife Institute of India, who was part of the official delegation which had visited Namibia last week, said: “During our talks with Namibian officials, we asked for 35-40 cheetahs over a period of five years. They have agreed to that.”

Following this, to implement the transfer of the felines, there would be signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the environment ministries of the two countries. “The number of animals to be transported in the first batch is not yet decided. We want to bring back 10-12 individuals, but the exact number will depend on the animals on offer,” Jhala told to the publication.

Once the Namibian officials provide details of the animals they are offering, the Indian experts will check them. “For selecting the cheetahs for translocation, we would be looking at the genetic diversity of the group being brought in, whether the individuals are able to hunt and are of the right age,” remarked Jhala.

Other members of the five-member official delegation to Namibia included one official from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, and the Madhya Pradesh Government.

Asiatic cheetah became extinct in India and was formally declared so by the Government in 1952.  The last three of these animals were shot dead by Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo of Koriya, Surguja located in present-day Chhattisgarh.

In India, the first lot will be settled in Kuno Palpur National Park in Sheopur, Madhya Pradesh. The park which is 125 kilometres from Gwalior airport has an area of 344 square kilometres and was one of the three potential sites recommended in 1992 for the cheetah project.

Also read: Extinct in India since 1952, Cheetah poised to leap in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno reserve