Today, on his 72nd birthday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release eight cheetahs into Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park.
The cheetahs, including five females and three males, have been brought from Africa’s Namibia as part of ‘Project Cheetah’ and the BJP-led government’s efforts to revitalise and diversify the country’s wildlife and habitat.
The eight cheetahs were brought in a cargo aircraft to Gwalior as part of an inter-continental cheetah translocation project. Later, the Indian Air Force (IAF) choppers carried the cheetahs to Kuno National Park from Gwalior Air Force Station.
The cheetah was declared extinct from India in 1952.
Cheetahs have been brought in under an MoU signed earlier this year. The big cats will help in the restoration of open forest and grassland ecosystems in the country, will help conserve biodiversity, and enhance ecosystem services like water security, carbon sequestration, and soil moisture conservation.
Previously, SP Yadav, Project Cheetah chief, stated that the Prime Minister will release two cheetahs from enclosure number one, and after that, about 70 meters away, at the second enclosure, the PM will release another cheetah.
“Cheetah is said to be the fastest animal. It runs at a speed of 100–120 km per hour. The habitat that has been selected in Kuno is very beautiful and ideal, where there are large grasslands, small hills, and forests, and it is very suitable for cheetahs. Heavy security arrangements have been made in Kuno National Park. Arrangements have been made to prevent poaching activities,” he said.
“Radio collars have been installed in all the cheetahs and will be monitored through satellite. Apart from this, there will be a dedicated monitoring team behind each cheetah who will keep monitoring location for 24 hours,” Yadav added.
The remaining cheetahs will be released into their respective quarantine areas prepared for them.
Under the government’s ambitious Project Cheetah, the reintroduction of wild species, particularly cheetah, is being undertaken as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) guidelines.
India has a long history of wildlife conservation. One of the most successful wildlife conservation ventures, ‘Project Tiger’, which was initiated way back in 1972, has not only contributed to the conservation of tigers but also of the entire ecosystem.
In continuation of this, the reintroduction of big cats is one step ahead and a milestone in the history of wildlife conservation in India.