Namibian cheetahs released in Indian wildlife park

EIGHT wild cheetahs that left Namibia for India on Friday were released into the Indian wild by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.

The cheetahs arrived on Saturday and were released into the Kuno National Park Wildlife Sanctuary in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

It comes after Namibia and India signed an agreement to bring cheetahs to the forests of the South Asian country, where the big cat disappeared 70 years ago.

According to the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), the eight cheetahs – three adult males and five females – range in age from two to five and a half years.

The conservation fund added that each cheetah had been vaccinated, fitted with a satellite collar and kept in isolation at the CCF center in Otjiwarongo.

“The cheetahs were selected based on an assessment of health, wildness, hunting skills and the ability to contribute genetics that will result in a strong founder population,” the statement said.

Laurie Marker, founder and executive director of CCF, said species conservation requires global cooperation.

“For more than 12 years, I have consulted with the Indian government and its scientists on how to bring cheetahs back into the landscape,” she said.

The CCF has received support from Erindi Private Game Reserve and the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Marker said.

At the handover ceremony in Windhoek on Friday, the deputy executive director of the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, Rebecca Iyambo, said the cheetah donation was part of a cooperation agreement with India in the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable wildlife management.

India’s High Commissioner to Namibia, Prashant Agrawal, said the reintroduction of cheetahs to the country was very special as India celebrates its 75th anniversary of independence.

“In this project, we have been privileged to have a strong partnership with Namibia, aptly called the Cheetah Capital of the World. I would like to thank the Government of Namibia for their continued support of this project, which is a another milestone in our history of close ties,” Agrawal said.

He added that the cheetahs are the goodwill ambassadors of India-Namibia relations and the cause of conservation globally.

However, a local Indian newspaper India Today reported that the success of the project depended on the survival of the cheetahs.

The newspaper reported that the center has set out its success criteria for the first phase of the project, which includes achieving at least 50% survival of cheetahs introduced for the first year and establishing a home range for the cheetahs. cheetahs in Kuno so that they can breed successfully in the wild.

The Indian government also plans to ensure that some wild-born cheetah cubs survive for at least more than a year and that the first generation reproduces successfully, the report said, adding that the project would be considered unsuccessful if the reintroduced cheetahs do not survive or fail. reproduce in five years.

However, environment ministry spokesman Romeo Muyunda said such negative reports will always be there.

“Cheetah Conservation Fund officials are in India monitoring them. There is a good chance they will survive,” Muyunda said.

He added that the government’s perception of the country’s resources is not true.

“We want to diversify species globally. We don’t want to see their concentration only in Namibia, but they need to be seen in other countries as well,” he said.

According to a 2019 report, Namibia has the largest population of free-ranging cheetahs in the world.

Comments are closed.