Extinct in India over 70 years ago, cheetahs are finally making a comeback thanks to a new reintroduction program.
Eight cheetahs from Namibia arrived in India on Saturday. tweet from the Cheetah Conservation Foundation (KKF). Big cats have been released into the Kuno National Park in India in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the cheetahs to their new home. “The long wait is over,” Modi said. tweeted next to photos of cats in their new environment.
Today spotted cats are found in southern and eastern Africa, especially in Namibia, Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania. according to the World Wildlife Fund (WFP).
But endangered cats used to have a much larger range. Historically, cheetahs have roamed the Middle East and central India, as well as much of sub-Saharan Africa. Habitat loss, poaching, and conflicts with humans have greatly reduced their populations.
There are currently fewer than 7,000 cheetahs left in the wild, according to WWF. In Iran only 12 adult cheetahs in wild nature.
The release of the eight animals is part of a larger plan to return the cats to their former range. In January, India’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change announced in a press release that the government plans to release 50 cheetahs into Indian national parks over the next five years.
The group that arrived in Kuno consists of three males and five adult cheetahs from Namibia. This is stated in the message CCF. According to the report, each cheetah was vaccinated, equipped with a satellite collar and kept in isolation at the foundation’s branch in Otjiwarongo, Namibia.
The animals chosen for the 11-hour trek were chosen “based on an assessment of health, wild character, hunting skills and the ability to contribute genetics that would result in a strong founder population,” the organization said in a statement.
It took a multi-stage journey to bring the cats from Namibia, located on the southwest coast of Africa, to central India. On Friday, the cheetahs departed the CCF center for Oshii Kutako International Airport in Windhoek, Namibia. They then flew on a private jet to Jaipur, India. Finally, on Saturday, the cats were taken to Kuno National Park and released to a new home.
“As a conservationist, I am delighted, and as the leader of CCF, I am extremely proud of the work our team is doing to reintroduce CCF,” Lori Marker, founder and CEO of CCF, said in a press release. “Without the research and dedication to cheetah conservation, this project could not have taken place.”
Jhala Yadvendradev, Dean of the Wildlife Institute of India and Chief Scientist at India’s Cheetah Project, said the project will benefit India’s entire ecosystem, not just cheetahs.
“The return of the apex predator restores the historical evolutionary balance, leading to cascading effects, leading to better management and restoration of wildlife habitat for the benefit of all species and will improve the livelihoods of poor forest communities,” Yadvendradev said in a press release. .