A historic agreement between India and Namibia was signed on 20th July, 2022, in the field of biodiversity conservation with specific focus on conservation and restoration of cheetahs in India.
Five female and three male African cats were transported to India on a cargo jet with a tiger face that took off from Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, on 16 September, Friday. The cheetahs arrived at Gwalior’s Maharajpura air base on Saturday morning after travelling through the night. Prior to 8 am, the aeroplane, which was supposed to land at 6.30 am, finally landed safely. Cheetahs are transported to Kuno National Park in an Indian Air Force Chinook heavy-lift helicopter following immigration procedures and other requirements.
As per Firspost, the last cheetah in India died 75 years ago, and the nation officially proclaimed the animal extinct in 1952. Since the 1960s, the Indian government has worked to reintroduce the cheetah. In the past, the Asian cheetah, which is still alive in Iran, was to be introduced.
The Department of Environment formally went to the Iranian government in the 1970s to request Asiatic cheetahs in use for reintroduction, and they received a favourable response. Indira Gandhi was particularly interested in bringing the cheetah back. However, such negotiations came to a halt when the nation went into Emergency and the Shah of Iran fell from power. Tehran then declined the offer as a result of the extremely low number of the endangered species.
When Jairam Ramesh served as environment minister in September 2009, efforts to bring the African cheetah to India gathered steam. The “African Cheetah Introduction Project in India” was conceived at that time.
However, India has now received its first shipment of cheetahs, 13 years later. Interestingly, this is the first time in the world that a large carnivore was relocated from one continent to another.
The cheetahs were scheduled to be reintroduced into the country in Madhya Pradesh in November 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the plan.