Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed to bring Cheetah to South Africa

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed to bring Cheetah to South Africa

Recently the Government of South Africa has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the relocation of 12 cheetahs to the Kuno National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh.

Key Points-

  • South Africa’s Ministry of the Environment signed the agreement days after it was ratified by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
  • Earlier on September 17, 2022, on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday, eight cheetahs from Namibia, three males and five females were released in Kuno Park.
  • A second batch of cheetahs is expected to arrive in the country by February-March 2023, taking the total number of the big cat from Kuno National Park Africa to 20.
  • These 12 cheetahs have been kept in quarantine facilities since July 2022 at two different locations – three in Phinda in KwaZulu-Natal province and one in Roiburg in Limpopo province.
  • According to the government, the South African cheetah is the ancestor of all other cheetah species, so a resettlement program in India could be ideal.
  • Cheetahs are being reintroduced to India under Project Cheetah, officially known as the “Action Plan for Introduction of Cheetah in India”.
  • Under the project, 50 cheetahs will be resettled in national parks of India over a time frame of five years.

Benefits of rehabilitation of cheetahs-

  • The reintroduction of cheetahs to Kuno National Park is part of a prototype designed to conserve native cheetah habitats and their biodiversity.
  • This will help prevent degradation and rapid loss of biodiversity.
  • Historical evolutionary balance from resettlement by bringing back an apex predator
  • will be re-established which will have wide-ranging effects at different levels of the ecosystem.
  • The rehabilitation of cheetahs is expected to have a huge impact towards their conservation. The cheetah is one animal that surpasses even Indian antelopes and gazelles in terms of speed.
  • Reintroducing the cheetah would not only be able to save its prey base, some of which are on the verge of extinction, but also other endangered species of grassland and open forest ecosystems. Some of these are on the verge of extinction.

African Cheetah / Asiatic Cheetah-

  • Despite being an important part of India’s ecosystem, the cheetah was declared extinct in the country in 1952 due to habitat loss and poaching.
  • Cheetahs can run at speeds of up to 70mph (113 km/h), making them the fastest land animal in the world.
  • The cheetah is the only large carnivore that has become completely extinct from India. The last cheetah in India died in 1948 in the Sal forests of Koriya district of Chhattisgarh.
  • Only about 7,000 cheetahs exist in the natural environment around the world.
  • The African cheetah is classified as a Vulnerable species under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
  • Namibia is home to the world’s largest population of cheetahs.
  • The Asiatic cheetah, once found in wide areas from the Arabian Peninsula to Afghanistan, is a critically endangered species and now exists only in Iran. It is estimated that only 12 Asiatic cheetahs are alive.

Source – PIB

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