Radio collars have been strapped on all the cheetahs to be monitored through satellite.
Project Cheetah: PM Modi today released three of the eight cheetahs that arrived in India Saturday, seven decades after their local extinction, in an ambitious project to reintroduce the big cats starting from Madhya Pradesh's Kuno National Park.
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Thanking the government of Namibia for help in the programme to reintroduce cheetahs in India, PM Modi said it was unfortunate that "we declared cheetah extinct in 1952, but for decades no constructive efforts were made to reintroduce them."
"Project Cheetah, under which the cheetahs were reintroduced in the country after they became extinct seven decades ago, is our endeavour towards environment and wildlife conservation," he said, adding that, "21st century India is giving a message to the whole world that economy and ecology are not conflicting fields".
However, citizens will have to wait a few months before being able to spot these fastest land animals at Kuno, the PM said. "The citizens will have to show patience, wait for a few months to see the cheetahs released in the Kuno National Park. Today, these cheetahs have come as our guests, unaware of this area. We have to give a few months to these cheetahs too to make Kuno National Park their home," he said.
Kicking off his 72nd birthday, the PM earlier today released three cheetahs into the Kuno National Park. Sporting a fedora hat, the PM was also seen photographing the felines with a professional camera. He released two cheetahs from enclosure number one and after that, about 70 meters away, from the second enclosure released another one.
Radio collars have been strapped on all the cheetahs to be monitored through satellite. There is a dedicated monitoring team behind each cheetah which will monitor their movements around the clock.
No greater gift for Madhya Pradesh than this on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's birthday, state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said this morning, calling the 'historic' ferrying of the wild cats from Namibia to the Kuno National Park the biggest wildlife incident of the century. This will rapidly boost tourism in the state, especially in the Kuno-Palpur region, he said.
According to the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), an international not-for-profit organisation headquartered in Namibia and dedicated to saving the fastest land animal, the five female cheetahs are aged between two and five years, while the males are aged between 4.5 years and 5.5 years.
India in the past was home to Asiatic cheetahs, but the species was declared extinct domestically by 1952. The big cats are being brought to India from Namibia as part of an intercontinental translocation project.
The national park is located in Madhya Pradesh's Sheopur district, located around 165 km from Gwalior. The Kuno park was selected as a home because of its abundant prey and grasslands. But critics have warned that the cheetahs may struggle to adapt to the habitat and may clash with the significant number of leopards already present.
The 'African Cheetah Introduction Project in India' was conceived in 2009 and a plan to introduce the big cat by November last year in KNP was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials have said. Considered vulnerable under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, there are fewer than 7,000 cheetahs left around the world -- primarily in the African savannas.