India seeks to reinsert cheetahs into its territory, buys 100 specimens from South Africa


An initial batch of 12 cheetahs will be flown from South Africa to India in February 2023, joining eight cheetahs introduced to India from Namibia during 2022.

After more than 70 years after the Asian cheetah was declared extinct, the Indian government seeks to reinsert this species in its territory and for this it reached an agreement with South Africa.
The Indian Ministry of the Environment announced that both nations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the reintroduction of cheetahs in the Asian country.

“Under the agreement, an initial batch of 12 cheetahs will be flown from South Africa to India in February 2023. The cats will join eight cheetahs introduced to India from Namibia during 2022,” the ministry said.

Restoring cheetah populations is considered by the Government of India to be a priority for that country and will have far-reaching and vital consequences for conservation, which is intended to achieve a number of ecological goals.
This effort to reintroduce these cats gained momentum in 2020, when the Supreme Court of India ruled that African cheetahs, a different subspecies, could be introduced into the country at a “carefully chosen site” on an experimental basis.

The authorities hope to establish a viable and secure cheetah population in India and hope that cooperation with South Africa will promote conservation and ensure that expertise is shared and exchanged and capacity built to promote cheetah conservation.
Eight cheetahs arrived from the Republic of Namibia last September and were released in Kuno National Park, a wildlife sanctuary 320 kilometers (200 miles) south of New Delhi, selected for its abundant prey and grasslands.

The extinction of the Asian cheetah

The Asian cheetah originally ranged from the Arabian peninsula to India, through Iran and Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In Iran and India they were especially numerous.

India was once the home of the Asian cheetah, but the animal was declared extinct in 1952, mainly due to habitat loss and deaths at the hands of hunters seeking its distinctive spotted fur.

Melissa Galbraith
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