By The Thornical Press Staff
September 18, 2022
After 70 years of extinction and a 5,000-mile ticket-to-ride, India has reintroduced eight cheetahs donated from Namibia into the Indian wilderness. In the first international effort to relocate cheetahs from one continent to another, 5 female and 3 male cheetahs were transferred from a game park in Namibia to India on a chartered Boeing 747 for a long 11-hour flight to their final destination.
India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, released the cheetahs into the Kuno National Park located south of New Delhi. Kuno National Park, a 289 square mile wildlife sanctuary, features grassland and fauna that is perfect for the predatory cheetah, also known to be the fastest animal on the planet. However, the newly arrived cheetahs will have to compete with the well-established Indian leopard and other persistent threats.
The once dominant Asiatic cheetah, declared extinct on the Indian subcontinent in the early 1950s, had once prowled across Central Asia, India, and parts of the Middle East. There have been reports of a small number of Asiatic cheetahs in Iran.
In 2020, the Supreme Court of India ruled that select cheetah subspecies could be imported from the African continent on an experimental basis. It has been reported that the Iranian government refused to export Asiatic cheetahs to India or even participate in cloning experiments.
It will certainly take some time for the 8 cheetahs to adjust to the Indian climate. Another viable threat will be poachers seeking the highly sought cheetah spot pattern. Currently, those found guilty of poaching in India can face up to 3 years in prison and a hefty fine for their actions.
Though many are thankful and look forward to the reintroduction of the cheetah to the Indian subcontinent, many in India are disappointed that it is not the Asiatic cheetah.