Cheetahs Return To India: PM Modi Releases Them Into Wild, Calls It “Historic Moment”

India in the past was home to Asiatic cheetahs but the species was declared extinct domestically by 1952. The big cats are being brought to India from Namibia as part of an intercontinental translocation project.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi released the cheetahs brought from Namibia, to their new home Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh
Prime Minister Narendra Modi released the cheetahs brought from Namibia, to their new home Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh (Photo: ANI)

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday released eight cheetahs into Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park. PM Modi released two cheetahs from enclosure number one and after that about 70 meters away, from the second enclosure released another cheetah. The cheetahs were declared extinct from India in 1952 but today 8 cheetahs (5 females and 3 males) were brought from Africa’s Namibia as part of ‘Project Cheetah’ and the government’s efforts to revitalise and diversify the country’s wildlife and habitat.

Earlier, a modified Boeing aircraft, which took off from the African country Friday night, carried the cheetahs in special wooden crates during the around 10-hour journey.

The ‘African Cheetah Introduction Project in India’ was conceived in 2009 and a plan to introduce the big cat by November last year in KNP was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials have said. The Kuno National Park is located in Madhya Pradesh’s Sheopur district, located around 165 km from Gwalior. The park was selected as a home because of its abundant prey and grasslands.

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“Nature & environment, animals & birds, for India is not just about sustainability & security. For us, it is also the basis of our sensibility & spirituality. Today, India of the 21st century is giving a message to the world that economy & ecology are not conflicting fields,” PM Modi said.

“People will have to show patience & wait for a few months to see these Cheetahs in Kuno National Park. These Cheetahs have come as guests, unaware of this area. For them to be able to make Kuno National Park their home, we’ll have to give these Cheetahs a few months’ time,” PM Modi further added.

“Today, the Cheetahs have come back to our land after decades. On this historic day, I want to congratulate all Indians and also thank the government of Namibia. This could not have been possible without their help,” PM Modi was quoted as saying.

PM Modi released the cheetahs that were brought from Namibia this morning, at Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh.

PM Narendra Modi, on his 72nd birthday, landed at the Indian Air Force Station in Gwalior, MP. PM Modi will release the 8 cheetahs into the National park and will attend a program of Self Help Groups in Sheopur.

Indian Air Force choppers carrying 8 Cheetahs from Namibia, arrived at Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh.

Cheetahs will help in the restoration of open forest and grassland ecosystems in India and will help conserve biodiversity and enhance the ecosystem services like water security, carbon sequestration and soil moisture conservation.

Earlier, SP Yadav, Project Cheetah chief, “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 done to prevent poaching activities.”

Under the ambitious Project Cheetah of the Indian government, the reintroduction of wild species particularly cheetah was 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 cheetahs is one step ahead and a milestone in the history of wildlife conservation in India.

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