Cheetahs are making a comeback in India thanks to a new reintroduction effort after being extinct in the country more than 70 years ago.
The Cheetah Conservation Fund tweeted that eight cheetahs from Namibia arrived in India on Saturday (CCF). The Kuno National Park in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is where the large cats were unleashed.
The cheetahs were greeted at their new home by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was there to celebrate his 72nd birthday. Along with images of the kitties in their new surroundings, Modi posted on Twitter, "A long wait is done.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the spotted felines can now be found in southern and eastern Africa, mainly in Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, and Tanzania.
However, the range of the threatened cats used to be much wider. Cheetahs once roamed the majority of sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and central India. Population declines caused by habitat degradation, poaching, and conflicts with people are significant.
The eight animals have been released as part of a bigger strategy to return the cats to their historic habitat. In a press statement in January, India's Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change stated that the country would be releasing 50 cheetahs into its national parks over the following five years.
According to a press release from the CCF, the group that arrived in Kuno is made up of three male and five female adult cheetahs from Namibia. According to the press release, each cheetah was immunised, given a satellite collar, and housed in isolation at the fund's facility in Otjiwarongo, Namibia.
The Indian Supreme Court prevented a prior attempt to introduce African cheetahs to Kuno National Area in 2012, arguing that doing so would be problematic since there might not be enough prey in the park to keep them fed.
The cheetahs from South Africa, according to Adrien Tordiff, an associate professor at the University of Pretoria who has been working on Project Cheetah since 2020, were chosen with consideration for the other animals in the National Park.