Some of the cheetah population in Iran will be taken to start the Indian populatons to ensure the gene pool is as close to the original Asiatic cheetahs as possible.

Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan State are recommended

Cheeath reintroduction to India

Indian Cheetahs and Big Cats

The Wildlife Institute of India in addition to the Wildlife Trust of India have named a trio of sites as the best suited places to re-introduce cheetah into the wild in India. To begin with 18 cheetah will be released into the three sites; the selected cheetahs will be taken from the Middle East and North East Africa.

Ten different sites where assessed from seven different environments and landscapes in the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. To gauge how good each site was they were assessed for prey abundance, local human population dependencies on natural resources and their attitudes towards wildlife as well as habitat size.

An author of the report Dr Y V Jhala who also works for Wildlife Institute of India was quoted as saying; “Reintroductions of large carnivores have increasingly been recognised as a strategy to conserve threatened species and restore ecosystem functions. The cheetah is the only large carnivore that has been extirpated from India, mainly by over-hunting in historical times. India now has the economic ability to consider restoring its lost natural heritage for ethical as well as ecological reasons. With this context, a consultative meeting of global experts was held at Gajner in September, 2009. A consensus was reached at this meeting for conducting a detailed survey in selected sites to explore the potential of reintroducing the cheetah in India.”

His views where echoed by the Minister of State for Environment and Forests as Shri Jairam Ramesh said; “It is important to bring cheetah back to our country. Cheetah have not been seen since 1967 in India. This is perhaps the only mammal whose name has been derived from Sanskrit language, being derived from the Sanskrit word ‘chitraku’, which means spots. Cheetah will help restore India’s grasslands which will help the conservation of many other endangered animals. The way tigers restore forest ecosystems, snow leopards restore mountain ecosystem, the cheetah will restore grasslands of Indiathe country.”

In addition to the three selected sites there are plans under way as part of Project Tiger in the Sanjay National Park and Dubri Wildlife Sanctuary which will dramatically improve these parks. This has lead to hope that they could play host to more than 30 cheetah, while the surrounding buffer zones could support a further 30 cheetahs.
As well as looking at relocating cheetah the team also assessed the possoiblity of spreading the growing population of Asiatic lions to the Kuno Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary. This area was deemed sufficient to have a potential 27 cheetahs with an increase to 32 if the forests are allowed to re-grow to their former sizes. This is in addition to the reintroduction of at least one pride of Asiatic lions as well.

There have also been six further sites which could support a sizable population of cheetahs in the future, which is good news if the original 18 animals increase the population.

All being well with the cheetah reintroduction, Eco-Tourism will benefit greatly, which will also rub off on the local communities. Cheetahs are used as flagship species in Africa already and would defiantly be seen as a way of increasing the safari industry in central India. The reintroduction would leave India with an enviable array of big cat species, tiger, lion, leopard, snow leopard, clouded leopard and cheetah!

The new venture must be seen as not juts the reintroduction of a species, but as an endeavour to change the management systems for the environment in order to restore some of India’s most neglected ecosystems and the key animal and plant species which depend upon them.

If you are interested in big cats and want to see some of the best that India has to offer then have a look at our Tiger Safaris or if you are a real adventurer and are looking for something different then how about our amazing Snow Leopard Trekking Holiday.

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