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Cheetahs from South Africa may arrive in two months

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New Delhi, June 7 (Ajit Weekly News) Before the Namibian cheetahs land in India, about five to six of these big cats are likely to come from South Africa in two months, top Environment Ministry officials said.

Cheetahs have been extinct in India for at least the last seven decades. Bringing cheetahs from Africa had been on the cards for many years but it was only last year that operations started for preparing the ground for it.

All the cheetahs coming from South Africa would be sent to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh.

“Agreement with South Africa is done. Now the final clearance from Ministry of External Affairs is awaited. One of our teams had visited South Africa and one team is currently there,” the officials said.

If all goes well, at least 5-6 cheetahs will reach India in August. This would be the first batch of the total 32-40 cheetahs planned to be brought in phases. “We will wait and see how the wild cats adapt to Indian conditions, how they respond to the climate here etc. before going ahead with bringing in the next batch,” the officials said.

After a delay of over two years, it was this February that a five-member team comprising one officer each from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Wildlife Institute of India (WII, Dehradun), Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, and the Madhya Pradesh government, had gone to Namibia.

Initially, only about 12-14 cheetahs were to be brought from Africa over a period of five years as per the Action Plan. It would include about 8-10 male cheetahs and 4-6 females.

The brainchild of former Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, the project was planned and launched in 2010.

The cheetah was declared extinct in India in 1952; currently there are no cheetahs in any National Park or Wildlife Sanctuary in India. The cheetah is the only large carnivore to have become extinct in Independent India.

–Ajit Weekly News

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