Eight cheetahs from Namibia arrived in India ahead of their release

Eight cheetahs from Namibia arrived in India ahead of their release

Eight cheetahs from Namibia arrived in India on Saturday for their next release as part of a project to reintroduce these cats, whose species was declared extinct in that region of the world 70 years ago.

According to authorities, this is the first intercontinental translocation of cheetahs, the fastest land animal on earth.

An ambitious project, but one that divides experts, some of whom are skeptical about its chances of success.

The five females and three males traveled from a wildlife park north of Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, in a chartered Boeing 747 named “Cat plane” for an 11-minute flight.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi led this operation, which was organized in Kuno National Park, some 300km south of the capital New Delhi, an area chosen for its bounty of bounty and grasslands.

Each of the two- to five-and-a-half-year-old animals was fitted with a collar that allowed its movements to be tracked via satellite.

France, on July 7, 2022 (AFP – Lionel BONAVENTURE)” style=”float:right”/>
A cheetah at the African Safari Zoo in Plaisance du Touch, southwest France, on July 7, 2022 (AFP – Lionel BONAVENTURE)

They are initially kept in an enclosure for a quarantine period of about a month before being released into the park’s open woodland areas.

However, some specialists have warned that these mammals may find it difficult to adapt to their new environment.

– Endangered species –

India was once home to the Asiatic cheetah, but it was declared extinct in 1952.

Endangered subspecies that once roamed the Middle East, Central Asia, and India are now found in very small numbers in Iran.

Efforts to reintroduce these animals to India accelerated in 2020 when the Supreme Court ruled that African cheetahs, another subspecies, could be introduced to India on a “carefully chosen site” and on an experimental basis.

This is a gift from the government of Namibia, one of the few African countries where this cheetah still lives in the wild.

Negotiations are underway for a similar transfer from South Africa, which could involve another 12 cheetahs.

Cheetahs became extinct in India primarily due to the gradual disappearance of their habitat and predation for their distinctive spotted coat.

Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo is widely credited with killing the country’s last three cheetahs in the late 1940s.

Cheetahs, a carnivorous mammal of the family Felidae whose ancestors date back about 8.5 million years, once roamed Asia and Africa in large numbers, according to the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia.

Eight cheetahs from Namibia arrived in India ahead of their release
A cheetah and her litter at Wilhema Zoo in Stuttgart, Germany, on August 5, 2022 (AFP – THOMAS KIENZLE)

Today only about 7,000 specimens remain, mostly in the African savannas.

The cheetah is listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

It is “Critically Endangered” in North Africa and Asia.

Its survival is threatened mainly by the reduction of its natural habitat and the disappearance of its prey due to human hunting, land development for other uses, and climate change.

Reference: www.challenges.fr

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