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Cheetah Extinction in India: A Deep Dive



  May 29, 2024

Cheetah Extinction in India: A Deep Dive



Historical Decline

Cheetahs, once abundant across India's grasslands, faced a steep decline due to various factors. Overhunting by royalty and British colonizers for sport, coupled with habitat loss due to agricultural expansion and deforestation, led to their dwindling numbers. The last three cheetahs were shot in 1948, and the species was declared officially extinct in India in 1952.

Project Cheetah: Revival Efforts

To restore this lost heritage, the Indian government launched Project Cheetah in 2022. This ambitious initiative aims to reintroduce African cheetahs, the closest living relatives of the extinct Asiatic cheetah, to suitable habitats in India. Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh was chosen as the initial site for the reintroduction.

Current Status & Challenges

Since its launch, Project Cheetah has seen both successes and setbacks. A total of 20 cheetahs (8 from Namibia and 12 from South Africa) have been brought to India. However, several cheetahs have died due to various reasons, including predation and infighting. Despite these losses, there have been positive developments too, with the birth of four cubs in Kuno National Park.

Road Ahead & Future Prospects

Project Cheetah is still in its early stages, and there are numerous challenges ahead. Adapting the African cheetahs to the Indian environment, managing human-wildlife conflict, and ensuring genetic diversity are just a few of the hurdles. However, the project holds immense potential for conservation and ecological restoration.

FAQs

Why African cheetahs and not Asiatic cheetahs?

Asiatic cheetahs are critically endangered with a small population in Iran, making their translocation unfeasible.

Are the reintroduced cheetahs breeding?

Yes, the first litter of four cubs was born in Kuno National Park in March 2023.

Is Project Cheetah successful so far?

While there have been setbacks, the project has seen some success with the birth of cubs, indicating potential for future reintroduction.

What are the long-term goals of Project Cheetah?

The project aims to establish viable cheetah populations in various suitable habitats across India and contribute to grassland conservation.



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