Showing posts with label Namibia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Namibia. Show all posts

Saturday 17 September 2022

Are there cheetahs in India? YES, from September 17, 2022.

Until September 17, 2022, you would have to answer the question in the title with a very positive NO because the same subspecies of cheetah that is found in Iran in very small numbers, was also present in India in the 1940s but the last cheetah in the wild in India was recorded in 1948 and they were declared extinct in that country in 1952. 

Are there cheetahs in India? Yes, on September 17, 2022!
Image: ANI/Unsplash

The last cheetahs were shot in the Sal forests of Koriya District, Chhattisgarh, which seems incredibly careless of the authorities and the individual person who shot them because they were the last ones in the country! An example of anti-conservation of the highest calibre.

But you may have heard that the authorities have taken the bold step of relocating cheetahs from Namibia, Africa, which is essentially the home of the cheetah in the world. A special cargo flight bringing eight cheetahs landed at the Indian Air Force Station in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. India's Prime Minister, Miranda Modi, will release them into Kuno National Park. Update: he had his camera with him with a telephoto lens to capture the moment of release.

He will release them on his birthday, which is this Saturday. The cheetahs have travelled more than 8000 km in a specially modified passenger 747 jumbo jet.

Below is a video of one of the cheetahs about to be flown from Namibia to India. They make such a sweet meow sound. I feel sorry for this cat. He or she is upset and wants to be back where she belongs.

The eight cheetahs are made up of five females and three males. Modi wants to revitalise and diversify India's wildlife under "Project Cheetah". The project is described as the world's first "inter-continental large wild carnivore translocation project".

It appears that the first discussions about this translocation took place in 2009 when officials of the Cheetah Conservation Fund based in Namibia entered into discussions with the Indian government and subsequently the government ordered the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department to develop a separate space within Kuno National Park to accommodate the cheetahs.

It is worth mentioning that female cheetah ranges in Namibia are extremely large measuring 1500 km². However, the majority of male cheetahs in the Serengeti living coalitions and establish small territories of about 30 km² with good vegetative cover and a locally high abundance of antelope. The point that I'm making is this: is there enough space in this national park to accommodate eight cheetahs from Namibia?

The park is spread over 748 km². There are no human settlements in the park. They believe that it can sustain 21 cheetahs. The authorities relocated villages from inside the park to outside its boundaries perhaps in preparation for this translocation.

The relocation of these cheetahs is also a big move for Namibia as it is the first time the wild southern African cheetah been translocated anywhere else in the world. The project has a budget of US$5 million over a period of five years.

The big question is whether the cheetahs will survive or fail to reproduce over the five-year period. Some experts have voiced major concerns. One of those is Valmik Thapar. He is unsure whether they will survive in the wild in India.

He believes that India does not have the habitat or prey species for wild re-roaming cheetahs. And he believes that the authorities do not have sufficient experience or understanding to make it work. He believes that they will survive in the short term provided they are provided with food. He says that India was never the natural home of the African chetah.

Here is a BBC video on the topic:

Tuesday 11 May 2021

Namibia's desert lions attack humans because they are starving due to drought

NAMIBIA, AFRICA - NEWS AND VIEWS: Starving desert lions are attacking humans in Namibia because a prolonged drought has killed off all their prey animals. Tourists have been warned about the danger that Namibia's desert lions posed to them and this small population of lions is dwindling as they battle starvation. Is this an example of global warming and climate change?

Campers have been attacked in their tent. One starving lion pounced on a 72-year-old man the previous day. The man, Denker, said that he was settling down with his wife at a camp in the north west when they spotted what they initially thought was a hyena but when the animal approached it emitted a chilling lion growl. 

Namibia's desert lions
Namibia's desert lions. Photo: Twitter.

They screamed and scared it away but the lion returned. It charged at the tent's window with the same low growl and crashed hard against the tent, dislodging the tent pole and peg and tilting the tent inwards towards them. The man fired a shot from his revolver which scared the lion off allowing them time to find safety.

Sadly, when they returned to their camp at Brandenburg, Namibia's highest mountain they found the gaunt lion chewing their tent canvas because of acute starvation. The same male lion is believed to have targeted the tour guide, David Ward, and his father a few miles away. They fought the lion off but Ward's 72-year-old father needed 20 stitches to his leg. The ribs and backbone of the lion were visible. The guide said that lions are going crazy with starvation.

Their plight is evidenced by these very rare attacks on humans and there is real concern that the lack of food and water in the desert habitat will lead to similar incidents. There must be concern, too, about their survival.

A spokesperson for the country's ministry of environment and tourism, Romeo Muyunda, said that: "Such behaviour is driven by sheer desperation because the animals have nothing to eat. We don't want anything happening to our tourists."

Namibia's desert lions attack a giraffe
Namibia's desert lions attack a giraffe. Picture in public domain.

The lion mentioned and three other malnourished cats were tracked and relocated to a private farm where there is plenty of prey animals such as antelopes. They will stay there until their condition has improved, the spokesperson said.

Sadly, two emaciated desert lions had to be euthanised because they were to weak to be saved.

The desert lions of Namibia live in what is described as the most "unforgiving patch of southern Africa" but they have adapted to the environment and survived. They are not a distinct subspecies but standard African lions.

They are leaner than average and travel longer distances in hunting for food and they've adapted to relying on the water content of their prey animals as a substitute for drinking water much like the diminutive sand cat. The sand cat is the only true desert cat.

Namibia's desert lions have been seen hunting seabirds and small seals on Namibia's Skeleton Coast. They are the only lions targeting sea life. It is believed that there are a mere 120 of these lions left and they have become a popular tourist attraction.

Farmers are affected because the lions have had to turn to livestock as a substitute for their normal prey animals.

News media: The Times.

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