India’S Newest Import from Africa: Cheetahs
Cheetahs once shared India’s forests with lions, tigers and leopards, but they gradually disappeared and haven’t been spotted in the wild for more than 75 years.
Now, through a five-year, $11 million project, the world’s fastest land animals are back in India.
As The New York Times reported, eight cheetahs—five females and three males aged 2 to 5 recently traveled aboard a Boeing 747 from Namibia to India, where a military aircraft transported them to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh.
Their arrival at the park was timed to mark Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 72nd birthday. Modi released the cheetahs, a gift from the Namibia government, into a soft enclosure at the park.
Following a month-long quarantine in the enclosure, the cheetahs will be allowed to roam around with other wildlife in the 289-square-mile unfenced park, as well as the surrounding forest area. Satellite radio collars will enable wildlife officials to track them. The plan is to bring more cheetahs from Africa until India’s population reaches about 40.
“It is the only large mammal that India has lost,” S.P. Yadav, secretary of India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority, told The Times. “It is our moral and ethical responsibility to bring them back.”
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Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.
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