The Prime Minister of India will soon release 3 Cheetahs (two male siblings and a female) into an enclosure at Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park to initiate the species’ reintroduction in India.



  • A quarantine enclosure of 50×30-metre, located within the core area of the 748-square-km Kuno National Park, is ready to receive 8 Cheetahs from Namibia.
  • The Cheetahs, who are all between the ages of five and six, will be quarantined in the enclosures for the next month and will be constantly monitored. The Cheetahs need not hunt during their quarantine period.
  • The goal is to ensure that no other animal enters, allowing the big cats to adjust well to their new environments.
  • After the quarantine period is over, the Cheetahs will be released into a 550-hectare enclosure divided into nine compartments, inter-connected through gates.
  • The Cheetahs will have to hunt for their survival in the bigger enclosure where they will stay for another month.
  • To deter poachers, two drone squads have been formed, five CCTV-equipped watchtowers have been erected, and at least 24 retired military personnel have been hired.


About the species

  • The Cheetah (a carnivore) is the world’s fastest land animal historically ranging throughout most of Sub-Saharan Africa and extending eastward to India.
  • The Cheetah plays an important part in the ecosystem. They maintain prey species healthy (by killing the weak and old) and control the population of prey, helping plants-life by preventing overgrazing.
  • Today, Cheetahs are found in only 9% of their historic range, occurring in a variety of habitats such as savannahs in the Serengeti, arid mountain ranges in the Sahara and hilly desert terrain in Iran.
  • Namibia has the largest population of Cheetahs in the world, earning it the title “The Cheetah Capital of the World.”
  • Currently, Cheetahs (African) are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, as there are fewer than 7,100 adult and adolescent Cheetahs in the wild.


Distribution of Cheetahs in India

  • Historically, Asiatic Cheetahs had a very wide distribution in India, occurring from as far north as Punjab to Tirunelveli district in southern Tamil Nadu, from Gujarat and Rajasthan in the west to Bengal in the east.
  • Thus, the Cheetah’s habitat was very diverse – scrub forests, dry grasslands, savannas and other arid and semi-arid open habitats.
  • In 1952, the cheetah was declared officially extinct in the country.


What is the ‘Cheetah Reintroduction Plan’?

  • Discussions to bring the Cheetah back to India were initiated in 2009 by the Wildlife Trust of India.
  • Recommended sites —
      • Kuno Palpur National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh — Amongst the surveyed sites of the central Indian states, KNP has been rated the highest, because of its suitable habitat and adequate prey base.
      • It is assessed to be capable of supporting 21 Cheetahs and is likely the only wildlife site in the country where villages have been completely relocated from within the park.
      • Kuno also provides the possibility of harbouring four of India’s big cats – tiger, lion, leopard and Cheetah, enabling them to coexist as they have in the past.
      • The other sites recommended are – Other sites of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were also recommended.


Why are Cheetahs coming from southern Africa?

  • The locally extinct Cheetah-subspecies of India is found in Iran and is categorised as critically endangered.
  • Since it is not possible to source the critically endangered Asiatic Cheetah from Iran without affecting this subspecies, India will source Cheetahs from Southern Africa.
  • Southern African Cheetahs have the highest observed genetic variety among extant Cheetah lineages, which is critical for a founding population stock.
  • Furthermore, Southern African Cheetahs have been determined to be the ancestors of all other Cheetah lineages, making them suitable for India’s reintroduction programme.


Significance of bringing back Cheetahs

  • Besides conserving the big cat, the initiative in itself is a boon to the ecosystem.
  • In saving Cheetahs, it is necessary to save not just its prey base (including certain threatened species), but also other endangered species of grasslands.
  • They are not a threat to humans and do not attack large livestock either.



  • Based on the evidence available, it is impossible to conclude that the choice to bring the African Cheetah into India is scientifically sound.
  • As a result, the Supreme Court of India (in 2020) permitted an experimental release of Cheetahs in a suitable habitat.