The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change of India is all set to introduce cheetahs into Indian vast woodlands over the next five years, 70 years after they went extinct. The plan was revealed by the Environment Minister at the 19th conference of the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
As per the action plan, a cohort of around 10-12 young cheetahs that are ideal for reintroduction shall be imported from Namibia or South Africa as a founder stock during the first year. Environment Minister Bhupendra Singh said that the Prime Minister is keen on the protection and conservation of seven major big cats, including Cheetah.
The country's last spotted Cheetah died in Chhattisgarh in 1947 and it was declared extinct in the country in 1952. The Supreme Court had earlier given its approval to introduce African cheetahs to suitable habitats in India on an experimental basis.
The plans to introduce African Cheetahs into the Indian environment had gone into limbo in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic and successive lockdowns.
A team from the Wildlife Institute of India, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, doctors and veterinarians from the Kuna national park along with the staff had to go to Savannah for training.
As per the plan, the central government, along with the ministry of environment and the Cheetah Task Force, will create a formal framework to collaborate with the governments of Namibia and/or South Africa, through the Ministry of External Affairs.
Meanwhile, the environment minister also talked about the fifth cycle of the All India Tiger Estimation which is currently underway. The minister said that we have 51 Tiger Reserves in the country and efforts are being made to bring more areas under the Tiger Reserve network. The tiger reserves are not just for tigers because more than 35 rivers originate from these areas, which are crucial for water security.
The union minister also released a Water Atlas, mapping all the water bodies in the tiger-bearing areas of India. Landscape-wise information has been outlined in this water atlas, which includes, the Shivalik Hills and Gangetic plain landscape, Central Indian Landscape and Eastern Ghats, Western Ghats landscape, North Eastern Hills, and Brahmaputra flood plains and Sundarbans.