The world’s fastest mammals, cheetahs, are preparing to return to India. In the next weeks, Madhya Pradesh will be the first state in the country to introduce wild cats. The decision comes 74 years after the country’s last cheetah was slain. A group of senior Madhya Pradesh government officials is camping in South Africa and Namibia, led by the principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) JS Chouhan. The delegation will submit its findings to the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government after returning home on February 25.
The batch of 12-15 cheetahs that will be brought here soon will be housed at the Kuno Palpur sanctuary in Sheopur. The 344 square kilometers long national park, located 125 kilometers from the Gwalior airport, was recommended as one of three sites in India in 1992.
In 2020, the Supreme Court approved the introduction of African cheetahs into India on a trial basis in a habitat that could be closely monitored to see if the large cat could adapt to Indian circumstances. After an examination in 2010, the Wildlife Institute of India, in partnership with the Wildlife Trust of India, proposed Kuno Palpur and two other sites for introducing cheetahs.
Originally, Kuno Palpur was to be developed as a lion’s second home. The original proposal, which was implemented in 1996-97, was to move lions from Gujarat’s Gir National Park as part of a 640 crore initiative. To relieve biotic pressure, the Madhya Pradesh government successfully relocated 24 villages with 1545 families.
Asiatic cheetahs are categorized as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They have a very tiny population and are now found in Iran.