Bhopal: Twelve cheetahs from South Africa arrived at Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday, as part of an intergovernmental agreement to reintroduce the big cats to India.
These big cats will join eight others from neighbouring Namibia that were released into the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh last year.
The second batch of cheetahs landed at the air force station in Gwalior and were taken to Kuno National Park, after a 10-hour flight from Johannesburg, South Africa. The number of cheetahs in Kuno National Park has increased now from 8 to 20.
These cheetahs were released by Union Ministers Bhupendra Yadav and Narendra Singh Tomar and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Union Minister for Environment Bhupender Yadav said, that under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi India has shown the world how to move from ecological wrong to ecological harmony.
“The arrival of 12 cheetahs furthers that journey. In a splendid example of Jan Bhagidari, over 450 cheetha mitr are ensuring the cheetah acclimatize well in India” he tweeted.
The cheetahs are being brought to India as part of the Cheetah Reintroduction Project on the basis of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the South African and the Indian government.
The Indian Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster Cargo plane brought the 12 cheetahs from South Africa.
The cheetahs, 7 male and 5 female are the first of dozens that South Africa has promised to translocate a further 12 annually for the next eight to 10 years.
The South African big cats will be kept in the quarantine enclosures for at least a month before they are moved into the acclimatisation bomas. A decision on it will be taken by the task force on cheetahs, officials said.
Experts said a delegation from South Africa had visited the KNP early September last year to see the arrangements at the wildlife sanctuary for housing the cheetahs. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between India and South Africa last month for the translocation of the mammals.
South Africa has given these big cats to India. But India has to pay $3,000 for the capture of every cheetah to the African nation before they are translocated, a wildlife expert said.
As per estimate, approximately 7,000 cheetahs are remaining in 9 percent of their global range.
With the increase in the number of cheetahs in Kuno National Park, new doors of tourism and development will open for the entire region.
Experts associated with the cheetah reintroduction project hope that cheetahs of South Africa will also quickly adopt Kuno National Park as their new home like the cheetahs of Namibia.