Cheetahs to be reintroduced into India after being extinct there since 1952

This is a bold project but it is nice to read about it. India is going to reintroduce cheetahs into the country. The idea was first thought of in 2009. It is finally coming to fruition. The plan is to release 35-45 cheetahs into and around Kuno National Park over the next five years said the Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav. This park is in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The cheetahs will come from Namibia and South Africa. Namibia is the African country where there is the largest population of cheetah's in the world.

Cheetah. Image by Barry Reed from Pixabay.
Cheetah. Image by Barry Reed from Pixabay.

The cheetah became extinct in India because of hunting under the British Raj together with loss of habitat. There were once large numbers of cheetahs in India. Emperor Akbar apparently had about a thousand of them. He used to go hunting with them because cheetahs are quite friendly and they can be semi-domesticated so you can hunt with them. You send the cheetah off to hunt some prey animal and enjoy the excitement of it. And they are very pretty wild cat. They look amazing when they run so that I guess is where the enjoyment comes from.

As mentioned in the title, they declared the cheetah extinct in India in 1952. India gained independence on 15 August 1947. The extinction in the wild of this wild cat occurred five years after independence was declared. Therefore the authorities in India must have contributed to this extinction by failing to recognise the precarious population numbers and the fact that they were at that stage near extinction. They could have taken steps to protect them but failed.

It's amazingly sad then to think that back in the day under the British Raj people took pleasure in killing them. 

The plan is to fit the animals with GPS collars and they are going to ask local residents to protect them against poachers.

It's a risky project but my research indicates that cheetahs relocate pretty well. They are one of the better wild cats in respect of relocation. They are tolerant of a wide range of environmental conditions. They don't pose a threat to humans. They just need to be protected from predation by other animals and from retaliatory killings by people.

In the past, a farmer in Namibia used donkeys to protect his calving herds. The more aggressive donkeys chased away jackals and drove away any cheetah that attempted to attack.

And the Cheetah Conservation Fund tried using guard dogs to protect livestock. They used four Anatolian Shephard guard dogs brought in from North America. It appears to been a successful because six more were later donated by a private breeder in North America and placed with collaborating farmers according to Mel and Fiona Sunquist (Wild Cats of the World).

Reintroductions of this nature can go badly wrong if the cheetah is too inexperienced to survive in the wild. They could end up being killed by predators or simply starving.

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