Cheetah Reintroduction Project

Prelims level : Bio Diversity & its Threat Mains level : GS-III Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment
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Why in News?

  • The Government is preparing to translocate the first batch of eight from South Africa and Namibia to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh soon after the situation linked to the current third wave of Covid-19 becomes normal, and total 50 in various parks over a period of Five Years.

What Next?

  • In this regard, the Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change has launched the ‘Action Plan for Introduction of Cheetah in India’ under which 50 of these big cats will be introduced in the next five years.
  • The action plan was launched at the 19th meeting of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

What is Reintroduction and why Reintroduce Cheetah Now?

  • ‘Reintroduction’ of a species means releasing it in an area where it is capable of surviving.
  • Reintroductions of large carnivores have increasingly been recognised as a strategy to conserve Threatened Species and restore Ecosystem Functions.
  • The cheetah is the only large carnivore that has been extirpated, mainly by over-hunting in India in Historical Times.
  • India now has the economic ability to consider restoring its lost natural heritage for ethical as well as Ecological Reasons.

About the Cheetah:

  • 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.
  • The cheetah is also the world’s fastest land mammal.
  • It is listed as vulnerable in IUCN red listed species.
  • The country’s last spotted feline died in Chhattisgarh in 1947. Later, the cheetah — which is the fastest land animal — was declared extinct in India in 1952.
  • The African Cheetah has been classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN; while the Asiatic Cheetah (found only in Iran) has been classified as Critically Endangered and both are listed under Appendix I of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).

African Cheetah               Asiatic Cheetah


Cheetah Reintroduction Programme in India:

  • The Wildlife Institute of India at Dehradun had prepared a ₹260-crore cheetah re-introduction project seven years ago.
  • India has plans to reintroduce cheetahs at the Kuno National Park in Sheopur and Morena districts of Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior-Chambal region.
  • This could be the world’s first inter-continental cheetah translocation project.

Reasons for Extinction:

  • The reasons for extinction can all be traced to man’s interference. Problems like human-wildlife conflict, loss of habitat and loss of prey, and illegal trafficking, have decimated their numbers.
  • The advent of climate change and growing human populations have only made these problems worse.
  • With less available land for wildlife, species that require vast home range like the cheetah are placed in competition with other animals and humans, all fighting over less space.
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