According to a report published in The Hindu, as per the government’s cheetah reintroduction program, five female and seven male cheetahs reached Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, from South Africa in an IAF plane this morning. These big cats shall be taken to the Kuno National Park which is in the Sheopur district about a hundred and sixty-five kilometers away from New Delhi and shall be freed to quarantine enclosures.
This is the second set of cheetahs comprising five females and seven males that are reaching this district. The first set had eight cheetahs that had been brought from Namibia and were released at the KNP last September by the Prime Minister. Amit Sanghi told the news sources that this morning around 10, the IAF plane carrying the cheetahs from South Africa reached the Gwalior airport.
Another official has informed us that once the clearance procedures get done at the airport the cheetahs shall be carried in the IAF helicopter to the KNP. According to the schedule, they shall be offloaded around 12 in the afternoon followed by their release in the quarantine bomas by the Chief Minister of MP and Union Minister.
An expert and a member of this project told that these cheetahs have traveled thousands of miles on the IAF aircraft from the international airport in Gauteng after midnight to a new home in India. The director of KNP, Uttam Sharma, had made a setup of ten quarantine bomas for these animals. Two pairs of these cheetahs shall be kept in these two facilities. The last cheetah of this breed died in 1947 in Chhattisgarh, and this species became extinct in 1952.
Experts have informed that a South African delegation last September visited the KNP to inspect if the arrangements have been made properly for the housing of these animals. Post that a memorandum was signed between these two countries in January this year confirming this translocation. The government wanted to airlift these animals last year in the month of August but due to a delay in the memorandum, it was not possible. India had paid $3,000 to the government of South Africa for each of these cheetahs before they were translocated.
South Africa has always been home to the best quality wildlife so this nation was the first choice for the Indian Government for the second set of these big cats. The previous batch of cheetahs from Namibia have adjusted well now to the climate conditions of India and have already been popular in the KNP. Though they are still in the hunting enclosures and are yet to be set free in the wild.
According to the wildlife law of India, it is mandatory to keep the animals in quarantine for a month prior to importing, and once they arrive in India, another isolation period of thirty days is compulsory too. Experts say that the population of cheetahs in South Africa has grown to five hundred and four from two hundred and seventeen which was during 2011.