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Cheetah Cubs Born in Boma , Do They Have Conservation Value ?

When Aasha gave birth to three cubs in one of the enclosures  of  Kuno national park - there was good news and bad news. The good news is that this is the second litter of cheetah on Indian soil after Siyaya, another Namibia cheetah, gave birth to four cubs in March 2023 and that the animal seems to have acclimatized further in India conditions. Birth in captivity will also enhance their chances of survival. The three newborns  from Aasha have also increased the number of cheetahs in India.  The bad news is that like Siyaya's cubs, they too are born within the confines of a boma and would not get the environmental conditions required to survive in the wild. They would also be reared up by Aasha in the enclosure -safe from predators like leopards. But what does this mean? Kuno Awaits Cheetah Birth in Open Forest Cheetahs were translocated to India with a purpose. The Cheetah action plan envisages saving, conserving and developing India's grasslands .The reason for choosing cheet

Delay In Cheetah Translocation, Indian Bureaucrats in Tizzy

African cheetah

The buzz created by Indian media which carried reports based upon adverse comments made by some individual wildlife experts on the Cheetah project seems to have alerted the South African government. This coupled with the presence of leopards has further delayed the project atleast for a month. Meanwhile, the top bureaucrats of Union ministry of environment forest and climate change are in a tizzy over delay in translocation of the animal, the project closely monitored by the prime minister’s office (PMO) also. Meanwhile the Union environment ministry on said the date for the re-introduction of cheetahs in the “historical ranges” of the country has not been decided yet and media reports about the big cats being stuck in transit are “completely unfounded”.

What is Causing Delay ?   

Cheetah  from NamibiaCheetah was scheduled to have arrived in India by August 15 but its flight continued to be delayed by some or other reason for the past over a year. A recent tweet  from Namibia on the Independece Day of India  showed first  images of "health  exam" of  cheetah  is being seen as an exercise to  show that the  translocation project is in progress. But the images also left the experts wondering as they came  almost one month after signing of an MoU between the two countries. On the contrary,  the animals are ready to be airlifted from S Africa but the MoU is missing.   As the project is close to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi,  the whole government machinery was working overtime to ensure  the release of  African Cheetah in Kuno Palpur National Park (KPNP)  originally planned as a second home for Asiatic lions. After signing of MoU between Namibia and India on July 20  this year, it was believed that the fastest animal on land would arrive but it did not happen. India is yet to sign an MoU with South Africa and the reason for this delay is not known. “  It is believed that the South African Cyril Ramaphosa has decided to review the project before  issuing a clearance . This has happened after adverse comments made by some India conservationists and environmentalists “, top sources in the ministry said.  

Also read: Lion ,Cheetah  And The Politics Of Conservation

And as if it was not enough, five leopards barged in the 5- sq km enclosure of Kuno where leopards were scheduled to be released.”  The spotted big cats, bigger than cheetahs, are required to be captured and removed from the enclosure to make them predator proof, the MoEFCC sources said. For more than 15 days or so, a team of over 100   forest department officials   including those from the MoEFCC, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and MP forest department have been camping in Kuno but the leopards continue to elude them. Now two elephants have also been deployed to track down the beast. 

Anxiety In MoEFCC Bureaucrats  

Kuno national  park for cheetah

The delay is causing discomfort to the MOEFCC top bosses. Director General of forests Chandra Prakash Goyal, a UP cadre officer of India Forest Service has not been able to explain  the “delay  in leopard  capturing exercise” to the Union minister Bhupender Yadav.  Goyal is believed to be of the view that officials in the state of Madhya Pradesh where Kuno is located were not efficient to catch the leopards causing the delay , MoEFCC sources said adding, he forgets that  WII and the ministry personnel were also involved in  the exercise in Kuno. Meanwhile, some members of the expert committee on cheetah constituted by the Supreme Court were also trying to meet the MOEFCC minister to discuss the issue but the minister was “too busy”, sources said. This explains the anxiety among the politicians and bureaucrats over the “project delay “, they said. All this was happening in the backdrop of   litigations over reintroduction of lion in Kuno and reprimand by the Supreme Court.  The Court order in 2013 had  termed the proposed cheetah translocation “  arbitrary and illegal”. In January 2020, after an appeal filed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the SC issued an order for the project to go forward as a pilot test, after suitable study and habitat selection.

Also readCheetah Races For Kuno, Defeats Lion

And finally experts in India criticized the project on conservation issues . They include   world renowned environmentalists and scientists including K.Ulhas Karanth leading Indian tiger expert and director of the Centre for Wildlife Studies, Dr Ravi Chellam , a leading biologist  who has also worked with WII and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) among other renowned organizations and Valmik Thapar , naturalist  conservationist an author.  Questioning the conservation aspect of cheetah   introduction, their criticism revolves around the arguments that Indian jungles do not have enough space for a sustainable population of cheetah. The African Cheetah  was introduced in Kuno after the extinction of Asiatic cheetahs in India in 1952.  Only a handful of Asian cheetahs are found only in Iran.

Cheetah images shared by Professor Adrian Tordiffe, Pretoria University S. Africa

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Cheetah Cubs Born in Boma , Do They Have Conservation Value ?

When Aasha gave birth to three cubs in one of the enclosures  of  Kuno national park - there was good news and bad news. The good news is that this is the second litter of cheetah on Indian soil after Siyaya, another Namibia cheetah, gave birth to four cubs in March 2023 and that the animal seems to have acclimatized further in India conditions. Birth in captivity will also enhance their chances of survival. The three newborns  from Aasha have also increased the number of cheetahs in India.  The bad news is that like Siyaya's cubs, they too are born within the confines of a boma and would not get the environmental conditions required to survive in the wild. They would also be reared up by Aasha in the enclosure -safe from predators like leopards. But what does this mean? Kuno Awaits Cheetah Birth in Open Forest Cheetahs were translocated to India with a purpose. The Cheetah action plan envisages saving, conserving and developing India's grasslands .The reason for choosing cheet