Cheetah Reintroduction Programme
The century-old Mysuru zoo has become the second Indian zoo to house the African cheetah, the fastest land animal, as it managed to get one male and two females from a cheetah conservation centre in South Africa under an animal-exchange programme.
What is the issue
- Recently, the Supreme Court lifted its seven-year stay on a proposal to introduce African cheetahs from Namibia into the Indian habitat on an experimental basis.
- The cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus, is one of the oldest of the big cat species, with ancestors that can be traced back more than five million years to the Miocene era.
- It is listed as vulnerable in IUCN red listed species.
- The cheetah — which is the fastest land animal — was declared extinct in India in 1952.
- The Asiatic cheetah is classified as a “critically endangered” species by the IUCN Red List, and is believed to survive only in Iran.
- The plan was to revive the Indian cheetah population.
- In May 2012, the top court had stalled the plan to initiate the foreign cheetahs into the Palpur Kuno sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, fearing that they may come into conflict with a parallel and a much-delayed project to reintroduce lions into the same sanctuary.
- The court was also worried whether the African cheetahs would find the sanctuary a favourable clime as far as abundance of prey is concerned.
- The cheetah does not breed well in captivity and requires vast stretches of grassland, and access to adequate prey to thrive.
Cheetah Reintroduction programme
- The Wildlife Institute of India at Dehradun had prepared a ₹260-crore cheetah re-introduction project six years ago.
- Nauradehi was found to be the most suitable area for the cheetahs as its forests are not very dense to restrict the fast movement of the spotted cat. Besides, the prey base for cheetahs is also in abundance at the sanctuary.
- According to the earlier action plan, around 20 cheetahs were to be translocated to Nauradehi from Namibia in Africa.