Recently it has been decided by the government that after being declared extinct in the year 1952, cheetahs will be rehabilitated in India.
- 13 cheetahs will be resettled in Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh next year. Here it is possible for cheetahs to coexist with leopards.
- This is the first time in the world that a large carnivore will be transferred from one continent to another.
- Earlier, an expert committee constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had identified the Kuno-palpur National Park (Madhya Pradesh) for the rehabilitation of the cheetah.
- This national park is a part of Kuno-palpur Wildlife Sanctuary (Sheopur-Shivpuri forest land) and is a suitable habitat for cheetahs due to favorable habitat, abundance of prey etc.
Importance of Cheetah Rehabilitation:
- This will provide insight into how animals inhabit entirely new landscapes.
- Conservation of the cheetah, being a flagship species, will revive the grassland and its biome and habitat.
- Flagship species are species whose conservation is considered to be positively correlated with the conservation of other organisms.
- Under Schedule-1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, the maximum number of protected organisms are domiciled in grasslands. Despite this, grasslands remain a highly neglected habitat in the country.
The cheetah, being the smallest member of the big cat family, mostly fails to protect its prey from larger species. This also makes it highly vulnerable to starvation death. There is also the potential for transmission of viral diseases, which can lead to the death of these imported animals.
- The African cheetah is classified as vulnerable and the Asiatic cheetah as critically endangered according to the IUCN.
- The Asiatic cheetah is much stronger and more agile than the African cheetah.
- The Asiatic cheetah (about 50-70 in number) is found only in Iran while the African cheetah is found in the forests of Africa.
- Cheetahs do not require much water and can survive in dry forests, grasslands, open plains and desert areas.
Cheetah reintroduction in India
Source – The Hindu