African cheetahs coming to India soon thanks to Namibia deal

On Wednesday, India and Namibia signed an agreement to bring cheetahs to the South Asian region. countryThe first batch of eight feral cats is due to arrive next month, officials said.

India has been working on relocating the animals since 2020, when the Supreme Court announced that African cheetahs could be introduced to a “carefully chosen location” on an experimental basis.

India has had Asiatic cheetahs in the past, but by 1952 the species was officially declared extinct in the country.

Under an agreement signed on Wednesday, Namibia’s African cheetahs will be taken next month to a wildlife sanctuary in the central state of Madhya Pradesh for captive breeding, a move expected to coincide with India’s 75th independence anniversary celebrations.

“Completing 75 glorious years of independence with the restoration of India’s fastest terrestrial flagship species, the cheetah, will revive the ecological dynamics of the landscape,” Indian Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav tweeted.

“The reintroduction of cheetahs will also significantly improve the standard of living of the local population through the prospects of ecotourism in the long term.”

The agreement, signed in New Delhi with Namibian Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwa, also provides for cooperation between the two countries in the areas of climate change, waste management and wildlife.

The Kuno Palpur National Park in Madhya Pradesh has been chosen as the new home for cheetahs due to its rich prey base and grasslands that have been found suitable for felids.

“The main goal of the Cheetah Reintroduction Project is to establish a viable cheetah metapopulation in India that will allow the cheetah to fulfill its functional role as a top predator,” the environment ministry said in a statement.

The cheetah is the only large carnivore thought to be extinct in India, primarily due to hunting for its distinctive spotted coat and habitat loss.

It is widely believed that Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo killed the last three recorded cheetahs in India in the late 1940s.

India also plans to send some cheetahs from South Africa, but a formal deal has yet to be signed.

The cheetah, considered vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, has a population of less than 7,000 individuals found mostly in the African savannas.