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Cheetah Reintroduction Project: Key Points

Cheetah Reintroduction Project: Key Points

The cheetah, which became extinct in India after Independence, is all set to return with the Union Government launching an action plan.

  • Under the ‘Action Plan for Introduction of Cheetah in India’, 50 of these big cats will be introduced in the next five years.
  • The action plan was launched at the 19th meeting of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
  • ‘Reintroduction’ of a species means releasing it in an area where it is capable of surviving.
  • Reintroductions of large carnivores have increasingly been recognised as a strategy to conserve threatened species and restore ecosystem functions.
  • The cheetah is the only large carnivore that has been extirpated, mainly by over-hunting in India in historical times.
  • India now has the economic ability to consider restoring its lost natural heritage for ethical as well as ecological reasons.
  • The cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus, is one of the oldest of the big cat species, with ancestors that can be traced back more than five million years to the Miocene era.
  • The cheetah is also the world’s fastest land mammal.
  • African Cheetah is listed as vulnerable in IUCN red listed species.
  • The country’s last spotted feline died in Chhattisgarh in 1947. Later, the cheetah — which is the fastest land animal — was declared extinct in India in 1952.
  • The Asiatic cheetah is classified as a “critically endangered” species by the IUCN Red List, and is believed to survive only in Iran.

Cheetah reintroduction programme in India:

  • The Wildlife Institute of India at Dehradun had prepared a ₹260-crore cheetah re-introduction project seven years ago.
  • India has plans to reintroduce cheetahs at the Kuno National Park in Sheopur and Morena districts of Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior-Chambal region.
  • This could be the world’s first inter-continental cheetah translocation project.

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