A long wait is over; Cheetahs in India after a seven decades

India was home to a huge number of cheetahs but the species went missing in the country and were declared extinct in 1952.

Cheetahs in India after a seven decades

Eight cheetahs landed in India on a Boeing 747 today morning (September 17) all the way from Namibia. The big cats arrived in a modified passenger B-747, which departed from Kutako International Airport in Windhoek and landed in Gwalior city. The cheetahs have been released by the PM himself on the special occasion of his birthday today, at Kuno National Park.  A customised military aircraft  carried them to their new home in Kuno National Park, in a lush river valley in the state of Madhya Pradesh. A caravan of politicians and supporters visited the park to welcome the cheetahs in homeland.

Out of the eight Namibian wild cheetahs,  there are five females and three males.

The plan to revive the existence o cheetahs in India was first endorsed in 2009 by then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, but was dismissed by the Supreme Court in the year 2013. The idea was rekindled in 2017 by the Narendra Modi government, and the court gave a goahead on the plan  in 2020 “on experimental basis”.

"The cats are under very mild sedation, but they are not tranquilised. They are all looking great," said Dr Laurie Marker, world's leading expert on cheetahs, who was on the jet with the big cats, said. Scientists are closely examining this project to determine whether a predator population can survive in a place where it lead into extinction.

According to the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), an international NGO headquartered in Namibia committed to saving the fastest land animal, the female cheetahs are aged between two and five years, while the males are aged between 4.5 years and 5.5 years, while sharing the portfolio of the big cats to media.