Cheetah, the world’s fastest land animal which was declared extinct in India in 1952, is expected to be reintroduced into the country in November this year at the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, state Forest Minister Vijay Shah said on Sunday.
The country’s last spotted cheetah died in Chhattisgarh in 1947 and it was declared extinct in the country in 1952.
The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) some years back prepared a cheetah reintroduction project.
The Supreme Court had earlier given its approval to introduce African cheetahs to a suitable habitat in India on an experimental basis.
“We have started the process of creating an enclosure for around 10 cheetahs, including five females, to be brought from South Africa to Kuno in Sheopur district and it is going to be completed by August,” Mr Shah told PTI.
Officials from India will be sent to South Africa for sensitisation and training in June and July this year and according to the plan, the transportation of the cheetahs will take place in October and November, he said.
Kuno, located in the Chambal region, is spread over an area of over 750 sq km and has a conducive environment for the cheetah, he said.
The protected area, comprising a considerable population of four-horned antelopes, chinkara, nilgai, wild boar, spotted deer and sambar, has a good prey base for the cheetahs, he said.
“According to the approved timeline sent to us by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change this week, the tentative budget outlay of ‘Project Cheetah’ is Rs 1,400 lakh for this fiscal,” the minister said.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is going to release the money for the project to Madhya Pradesh and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) at Dehradun next month, Mr Shah said.
An expert from South Africa visited the Kuno National Park on April 26 this year along with scientists from the WII and inspected the facilities and habitat created there for the introduction of African cheetahs. They approved it and now the final process of bringing the cheetah is underway, a forest official said.