BY DEBAJYOTI CHAKRABORTY
KOLKATA, 11 SEPTEMBER 2022
It took the country almost 75 years to bring back the fastest animal on earth and the date of introduction could not have been even better, 17 September, the birthday of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
As the countdown begins for the final seven days of wild and untamed Cheetah translocation and reintroduction project to India, the officials of Kuno Palpur National Park in Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh are working overtime.
CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and forest minister Vijay Shah visited the KNP today and inspected the preparedness of the wild cheetah release later this week.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the “Reintroduction of the Cheetah” project on September 17, informs Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Bhupender Yadav.
First with the help of two elephants they are pushing the last few remaining wild resident leopards out of the enclosure zone and few days ago completed the mega rabies vaccination drive upon 1000 wild and stray dogs in the jungle.
PM Narendra Modi will introduce the first batch of five young and wild African Cheetahs on 17 September at Kuno National Park, confirms chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
“The five cheetahs will be brought from Windhoek, Namibia, to Jaipur and from there, they will be further shifted through aircrafts to Palpur in Kuno. Two helipads have been developed inside the park for cheetahs while five helipads have been developed for the VIPs coming to attend the event,’a according to union civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindhia.
The officials of the South African environment ministry have also arrived in Kuno to study the risk management plan.
Four watchtowers have been set up fitted with high resolution cameras to monitor the movements and behaviours of the cheetahs. All the cheetahs will also be fitted with radio collars in the neck, according to Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), P.K.Verma.
The current capacity of Kuno can accommodate 21 cheetahs but after further expansion can accommodate upto 35 cheetahs.
Already a local mascot named ‘Chintu Cheetah’ has been displayed at the entrance of the Kuno National park and the local villagers have been educated about the ecological necessity of the Project Cheetah Translocation in India.
On 17 September all the zoos in the country will organike shows and the school children will be awarded about the cheetah translocation in India.
The last three Asian cheetahs have been poached in the country way back in 1947 and in 1952, WWF declared extinction of Asian varieties of Cheetah in Indian forests.
Though three zoos in the country have captured cheetahs. At present few Asian Cheetahs are found only in Iran.
India has plans to translocate 50 African Cheetahs over the next few years, as per the IUCN guidelines. India has already signed a MoU for translocating cheetahs to the country’s forests.
“ The cheetahs will arrive from the southern part of Namibia to Kuno on 17 September and on the same days will be released on the enclosures prepared for them by PM Narendra Modi,”says Vijay Shah, forest minister of Madhya Pradesh.
He expressed hope the project Cheetah reintroduction will increase further tourist footfalls and boost employment generation and uplift the socio economic scenario of the region.
Male and female cheetahs will be released in separate enclosures initially. The area of KNP is 750 square kilometres and it has plenty of food bases like spotted deer ( Chital) and other carnivorous animals.
Till the 16 th century there have been around 10,000 Asiatic cheetahs roaming in the wild inside Indian forest lands. Cheetahs are the fastest land animals on earth and can run at speeds of up to 113 km per hour. The Cheetah can reach its top speed in just three seconds.
Almost like flying -When cheetahs are running full speed, their stride (length between steps) is 6-7 meters (21 feet). Their feet only touch the ground twice during each stride.
Till today, cheetahs come under the vulnerable species category as there are only some 7100 odd cheetahs left in the wild , mostly in Africa and are amongst the most vulnerable and threatened wildcat
species on earth. The asiatic cheetah population is around 100 and left only in Iran.
Though the World will celebrate International Day of the Cheetah on 4 December 2022, the Midnight’s Children are all set to celebrate in the 75 th years of the country’s independence on 17 December with the glorious return back of the meow and purr in the forests.