New Delhi: A B747 Jumbo Jet landed in Namibia on Thursday to bring back eight cheetahs who will be introduced into the Indian wildlife by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 17.
The B747 has been painted with the face of a tiger, signifying the importance of the flight mission.
The jumbo jet landed in the Namibian capital of Windhoek, as part of one of the world’s biggest inter-continental translocation projects of cheetanhs.
“A special bird touches down in the Land of the Brave to carry goodwill ambassadors to the Land of the Tiger,” the High Commission of India in Windhoek said in a tweet.
Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav retweeted the post and said, “India can’t wait to welcome these ‘goodwill ambassadors’. The whole country is waiting to hear their growls once again decades after they went silent in the country.”
The aircraft has been specially customized to introduce cages to ferry live cargo from one continent to another. The aircraft has been modified to suit the requirement of transporting the cheetahs through the vast expanse of savannah and into Asia.
The plane will land in Jaipur upon its return and the Cheetahs will then be flown to Kuno National Park in the Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh via helicopter.
The Cheetahs will be introduced in the national park by the prime minister on his birthday, completing a decade-long project that has been delayed several times in the past.
The ‘African Cheetah Introduction Project in India’ was first conceived in 2009 and a plan was made to introduce the big cat by November last year in the national park.
However, the project was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the successive lockdowns, officials said.
The Asiatic cheetah was declared extinct in India in 1952 after Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo shot the last offspring of the species in 1947.