Cheetahs might roar in MP after 70 years

Cheetahs might roar in MP after 70 years

Representative image.

African Cheetah might roar in Madhya Pradesh soon with the Supreme Court giving nod to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on January 28 to bring to India the wild cat which had become extinct in the country in 1951.   

Two Madhya Pradesh wildlife sanctuaries --Kuno-Palpur and Nauradehi—are among the three locations the union government has identified for trans-locations of Cheetahs that the NTCA has proposed to shift from Namibia. The third location is in Rajasthan.

Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of Madhya Pradesh Wildlife Department JS Chauhan said that the Union Government had shortlisted Kuno-Palpur and Nauradehi as suitable habitats for Cheetah.

“ If the government gives precedence to the previously identified locations, these big cats could be rehabilitated in Madhya Pradesh”.

The NTCA had filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking translocation of African Cheetahs from Namibia. A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde has constituted a three-member committee to guide the NTCA to take a decision on the issue under the court’s watch.

The apex court had in 2013 stayed any such relocation, stating that there was no scientific study to show that re-introduction of cheetahs and lions in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary would be successful.  On Tuesday, it gave its nod to cheetah’s introduction “on an experimental basis” after carefully choosing the habitat and monitoring to see if it can adapt to Indian forests

 “It has taken so long to get the court to allow the re-introduction of the cheetah,” said MK Ranjitsinh, the head of a court-appointed committee to help NTCA.

Cheetahs went extinct in India once the ruler of an erstwhile princely state in Koriya in undivided Madhya Pradesh, gunned down the last three Asiatic cheetahs in 1947. Some though reported spotting a female cheetah in 1951.

The NTCA said it had carried out extensive survey and research to locate ideal habitats for cheetah in India and zeroed in on three suitable habitats — Kuno and Nauradehi wildlife sanctuaries in MP and Shahgarh area in Rajasthan.

The Cheetah Conservation Fund, Namibia, has expressed its willingness to donate cheetahs and only cost towards transportation of these animals to India is needed to be funded.

The NTCA had rejected the cheetah species from Iran saying they were genetically weaker and also very few were found in the wild.

Quoting accounts by historian Irfan Habib and studies on cheetah, the NTCA claimed, that Kuno sanctuary and other habitats in India were occupied by a cheetah in historic times in large number. Other areas where cheetah roamed presently fall in Rajasthan, Gujarat, central India and Uttar Pradesh. These were the grounds where cheetahs were hunted and captured during Mughal times.