Cheetahs from Namibia to arrive in September: Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav

Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav has confirmed that the translocation of African cheetahs to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh is expected to be completed by September. Yadav told The Indian Express that all formalities with Namibia have been completed and the cheetahs are being prepared for translocation. Eight cheetahs are expected from Namibia and the Indian government is trying for 12 more from South Africa

“The process of bringing cheetahs from Namibia has already started. There were some issues with site development that have been resolved. We are waiting for the monsoon to return to Kuno and once that happens, the cheetahs will be brought in,” said the Union minister.

Yadav also said that “all the formalities from the Indian end were complete to bring the cheetah from South Africa”. The Indian government was targeting the arrival of the cheetahs in August, with ministry sources saying there was no “fixed date” for the relocation and “the process is on track”.

“Of course, we have to bring in cheetahs that can hunt in the wild, there are no captive cheetahs in Namibia. Breeding cheetahs in captivity is against Namibian law,” a source in the ministry said, adding that all approvals have been procured for the transfer of cheetahs to India, except for the approval of the South African president. Ministry sources say that the consent of the President is essential for this.

However, cheetahs in Namibia as well as South Africa have already been prepared – including their vaccinations, blood tests, radio calling etc.

“We are getting this batch of eight cheetahs. Cheetahs from both countries were identified six months ago and none have been rejected since. The health of the cheetahs is very important…diseased cheetahs will not be translocated. In the next 3-4 years, we will acquire 50 cheetahs,” said a senior ministry official.

Site development at Kuno National Park is in its final stages. Two sites have been identified for the construction of the helipad, including one inside a 6-sq-km quarantine site where the cheetahs will be housed for the first 30 days. The cheetahs will be flown to an airport near Kuno and then helicoptered to the park’s helipad, an official said.

“Usually rainfall in Kuno subsides by the end of July, but this year the monsoon has been erratic and the season has been prolonged, delaying the process. We are combing the quarantine area using elephants to sterilize it from the presence of jackals, leopards or wild dogs. We will also release 700 herbivores, including blackbuck, cheetah and sambal – the hunting grounds of cheetahs – within a week,” the official said.

In an earlier interview with The Indian Express, South African veterinary wildlife specialist Professor Adrian Tordiff of the University of Pretoria, which has partnered with WII and NTCA for the cheetah project, said the translocation project is mutually beneficial for Africa and India. South Africa’s cheetah population began to decline two decades ago, dropping to 500 before conservation programs were introduced. Now South Africa is running out of space for cheetahs, he said.

“There are no new reserves where they can be put. And with a genetically healthy population, numbers are growing even in these relatively small private reserves. If this continues, the cheetah will destroy the prey in the region. And we may have to start using contraception to control their population. “Instead of fragmenting smaller species we should be looking at a global population of cheetahs, a metapopulation – which, I think, is a terrible idea, especially when the genetic differences between African and Indian cheetahs are very small, and the ecological function is practically the same,” said Professor Tordiff. .

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