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7 more cheetahs to be released in 3 phases in June

This is the third review of the cheetah introduction programme in the last five days after three cubs died on a single day due to a heatwave-like condition
alyan Ray
Last Updated : 01 June 2023, 04:13 IST
Last Updated : 01 June 2023, 04:13 IST
Last Updated : 01 June 2023, 04:13 IST
Last Updated : 01 June 2023, 04:13 IST

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Seven more cheetahs will be released into the wild of Kuno National Park in three phases beginning June as per the decisions taken by the steering committee on Project Cheetah on Wednesday.

“We agreed that seven more cheetahs will be released in three phases from around the third week of June. Each release will be separated by a timeline of two to three days,” Rajesh Gopal, chairman of the Cheetah Project Steering Committee told DH.

“This will happen after a basic GIS based landscape fragmentation analysis to decide the vulnerability of settlements prone to human cheetah interface,” he said.

These were among the key outcomes of the first meeting of the new 11-member steering committee formed last week.

This is the third review of the cheetah introduction programme in the last five days after three cubs died on a single day due to a heatwave-like condition. Other two meetings were chaired by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Union Environment and Forest Minister Bhupender Yadav.

The land-fragmentation analysis will be conducted at Kuno and Sheopur districts, and will involve experts from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.

As per the release plan, one male and one female will be released first, following which a second male that was released earlier but strayed outside Kuno and had to be darted, will be set free once again. The remaining four will be released in batches of two males and two females.

Earlier, officials had informed the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister that six cheetahs were released in the wild of Kuno National Park.

India imported 20 cheetahs from South Africa and Namibia in an ambitious programme to introduce African cheetahs nearly seven decades after Asiatic cheetahs went extinct. Three of the 20 have died.

A decision on the import of the second batch of cheetahs will be taken after analysing how the current lot fares.

During the field visit, members of the steering team saw two female cheetahs and a kill they had made and eaten. The experts also debated on better assessment of Kuno National Park’s carrying capacity (environment ministry suggests the park can house 21 animals) and how to implement conservation measures with support from local communities.

Last week, the officials informed Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan that a second site at Gandhisagar National Park could be readied by November while work had begun on Nauradehi wildlife sanctuary for housing the felines at a later date.

Yadav on Tuesday said officials involved in the cheetah revival plan will be sent on study tours to Namibia and South Africa from where the felines have been brought to Kuno.

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Published 31 May 2023, 16:35 IST

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