Cheetahs may make a comeback in India
Jaipur: If sources are to be believed, cheetahs shall be coming to India soon. They will be air-lifted either from South Africa or Namibia. This fastest running predator, which became extinct in the country during the 1950s, are set to be relocated and may be put up either in Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan. Bihar too has showed interest to host the Cheetahs, officials informed.
A video conferencing among officials and Ranjitsinh, a prince from Wankaner in Saurashtra, and a 1961 IAS batch officer, was held on September 30 to chart out a plan. Ranjitsinh has been raising his voice for cheetah’s re-entry in the country since last many years, environmentalist Harsh Vardhan said, adding that he was nominated as the chairman of a three-member committee formed by the Supreme Court.
Y V Jhala, Dean at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), has also been nominated to head the Cheetah-team for inspecting habitats where the predator can be rehabilitated, said Harsh. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is appointed as the new Cheetah-Office in India via the Supreme Court Order, he added.
A sum of Rs 2.5 crore has been sanctioned for WII by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to facilitate this wild cat’s entry into India. The Asiatic Cheetah survives in Iran only and as this country is disinterested to part with it to any country, the only option left is the African Cheetah and South Africa and Namibia are apparently willing to export to India, he informed.
Lauri Marker, founder-head of Cheetah Conservation Foundation in Namibia, visited India last February and discussed diverse aspects of the project with some key players. Many questions, however, are left unanswered including if the forest officials have re-examined the impact of this fastest running animal in Indian conditions.
This animal basically needs open and scrub habitat promising a grass cover and abundant feed. However, India lacks such large tracts of habitats which does exist in its African homes. Hence, the feed quotient raises yet another question which is “Will village population face the brunt in the suggested areas,” questions Harsh.
“What will the villagers feel when the predator will pick up their sheep, goat, poultry, etc?” Harsh asks. Have the Indian foresters chalked out any plan in this perspective. Presently, there is tigers vs the villagers. Now will Cheetah add to worries or solve them, he asks.
Cheetahs are endangered species, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites). Around 7,100 cheetahs are left in the wild.
The Asiatic cheetah, which once roamed in different parts of India, are now found in Iran.