On the directions of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), a team of experts recently visited the Kuno National Park and reviewed the current status of the Project Cheetah.
What is the Project Cheetah?
- Discussions to bring the Cheetah back to India were initiated in 2009 by the Wildlife Trust of India.
- Under the ‘Action Plan for Reintroduction of Cheetah in India’, 50 cheetahs will be brought from African countries to various national parks over 5 years.
- Most suitable site — 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 — Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh; Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary — Bhainsrorgarh Wildlife Sanctuary complex, Madhya Pradesh; Shahgarh bulge in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan; Mukundara Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan.
- As part of this project, 20 Cheetahs (8 from Namibia and 12 from South Africa) were Introduced in the KNP (since last year) to establish a free-ranging population for the first time since their extinction in India 70 years ago.