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Experts Anxious Till Cheetahs Adapt Kuno National Park, Tourism Not Priority

  International cheetah experts are closely monitoring the movements of 8 spotted cats released on September 17 in Kuno National Park of central India state of Madhya Pradesh. Cheetahs are quarantined for a month and only trained Namibian handlers are allowed to “take care” of the  fastest land animal housed in different small enclosures. The animals are watched from machaans –  watch tower situated about “100 meters away”. Amidst continuing negative media reports on the success of the translocation project, the biggest concern of the Union ministry of forest, environment and climate change (MoEFC&C)   is adaptation  of new environs. “Let's see how soon the cheetahs adapt Kuno”.   Indian Officials Optimistic   Cheetahs are housed in smaller enclosures, the one shown on televisions sets when PM Narendra Modi released them on his birthday on September 17. After one month, they are likely to be released in a bigger enclosure. In another one month or so, they will be released in a

Namibian Cheetahs To Fly To Kuno National Park On September 17

Cheetahs reaching Kuno

 Barely a week after the forest minister of Madhya Pradesh – soon after he returned from South Africa-announced that cheetahs would reach India in November, the chief minister of the state   declared that the fastest animal on land will reach faster- on September 17. The project cheetah- translocation had missed multiple unofficial deadlines due to factors ranging from the presence of leopards in cheetah enclosures to diplomatic formalities. Interestingly, the Union ministry of forest, environment and climate change that has been handling the project is still tightlipped. Instead, the centre chose Madhya Pradesh to reveal the date. Eight cheetahs are likely be airlifted from Namibia for first phase of translocation on September 17.Namibia had signed an MoU with India on July 20.

Why MoEFCC Tightlipped

Kuno National park

Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh where Kuno Palpur national Park (KPNP)  is located, announced dramatically  before the cabinet meeting on September 6 that , “  prime minister Narendra Modi will release  cheetahs in Kuno on  his birthday on September 17.”  However, he did not divulge more details . Soon the breaking news went viral across the media  that had been speculating  the  cheetah release dates  for long. Chouhan’s announcement did surprise all and sundry, especially   after his forest minister’s  recent statement. 

Also readLion ,Cheetah  And The Politics Of Conservation

Though there were hectic preparations going on in and around Kuno for the past few days, especially the construction of a number of helipads, politicians and officials were tight lipped. The cheetahs were scheduled to have been brought on August 15 when the Prime Minister Modi was supposed to have announced the translocation. However, it did not happen.  The chief minister’s announcement was also surprising because Madhya Pradesh was never involved in the translocation project as it was being handled by the centre. Though Kuno is located in MP, the state was not even part of the ceremony of signing of the MoU with Namibia.  The project was always close to the prime minister.

" Waste of Taxprayers" 

Cheetahs to reach Kuno

New Delhi’s “vanity project” has been involved in controversies beginning a Supreme Court order in 2013 to ensure lion translocation in Kuno Palpur national park to the questions raised by wildlife scientists and biologists over the conservation value of the project. Critics like Ravi Chellam, a veteran in wildlife research, education and conservation   had warned, “The cheetah introduction plan has not been mentioned in the National Wildlife Action Plan including the current plan for the period 2017-2031, while the translocation of lions has been a national priority since the 1950s.”  

Also readDelay In Cheetah Translocation, Indian Bureaucrats in Tizzy

" Environmentalist and author, Valmik Thapar has even termed the project as “a waste of taxpayers’ money.” In an interview with The Times of India, he had said, “The African cheetah can never be introduced into the wilds of India. We don’t have any habitat to ensure a natural reintroduction. We do not have the prey species or the space for the cheetahs to grow in numbers.” He also said, “I think you can reintroduce cheetahs in a fenced enclosure of 100-200 sq km with an expenditure of millions of dollars, because the fence has to be four metres high. You can make sure that they are hand-fed or baited. And you can have people coming in to watch the animals, as in a drive-in enclosure. But reintroducing it in the wild is impossible.”


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