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Cheetahs are set to return to India after 7 decades; Read on…

India’s environment ministry says that preparations have been made at India’s Kuno National Park in the state of Madhya Pradesh to welcome Cheetahs in August. However, top reliable sources in the ministry said that cheetahs will not arrive in India before its 75th Independence Day on 15th August. WION spoke to Y V Jhala, the man representing India as an in-charge of the relocation and who is overseeing the developments in Namibia.

Mode of Travel
Cheetahs will be airlifted from Namibia and South Africa and brought to either Jaipur or Gwalior airports, in Indian states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh respectively. The total travel time is expected to be around 12 hours. Back up ambulances have been arranged in case they need to be transported through road.

Will cheetahs be sedated and quarantined?
Tranquilizers or sedatives are injected into animals to control their anxiety, stress and agitation. It makes them drowsy and calm and sometimes even in a state of sleep depending on the dosage. Cheetahs will undergo 30 days of quarantine at Kuno national park after undergoing the same in their host countries.

Why Kuno National Park? 
Kuno National Park is spread over an area of 748.76 square km and is one of the major tributaries of Chambal river. It has the potential to carry populations of all four of India’s big cats the tiger, leopard, Asiatic lion and cheetah. According to NTCA,¬†leopards in Kuno are being released in different enclosures to avoid their conflict with cheetahs.

India MoUs with Namibia and SA
The Memorandum of Understanding on cheetah translocation between India and Namibia has already been signed, but the one with South Africa is still pending signatures. According to officials, the MoU has been finalised on India’s end and only needs to be signed by South Africa’s President. Albi Modise, Spokesperson, South African Department of Environmental Affairs, told WION that relocating Cheetahs from South Africa to India is a ‘historic moment’.

India’s environment ministry says that the endeavour to bring Cheetahs to India will enhance the country’s capacity to sequester carbon through ecosystem restoration activities in cheetah conservation areas. ‘It is a historic moment for us and we want to ensure that as and when it happens, it happens within the parameters of clearly defined laws and also respect the requirements and specifications when it comes to translocation of that particular nature,’ he told WION.

The project aims to establish viable cheetah metapopulation in India so that it can perform its functional role as a top predator and provide space for its expansion within its historical range, the Indian ministry said. It said that the goal is also to use cheeta as a charismatic flagship and umbrella species to garner resources for restoring open forest and savanna systems.

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