Monday, December 26, 2011

59 years after wipeout, cheetahs to be back

59 years after wipeout, cheetahs to be back
Times of India

The fastest land animal on earth, the cheetah, would be flown into Madhya Pradesh once the forest department gets the import licence to bring the first 13 of the cats from the forests of Namibia in Africa, to the Palpur-Kuna sanctuary in Sheopur.

This will herald the cheetah introduction programme in India, 59 years after the last of them were wiped out in the country. The last cheetah in India had died in Sarguja – now in Chhattisgarh— in 1947, according t o experts.

The MP forest department is keeping its fingers crossed for the directorate general foreign trade to allow them in before the Namibian government can sanction their export. "We hope to get the import licence after clearance from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)," principal chief conservator of forest (Wildlife) H S Pabla told TOI. "These cheetahs would revive their population in the country," he added. In all, Pabla said, 20 cheetahs would be translocated to Palpur-Kuna. The Namibian Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) is keen to donate the animals free of cost to India. CCF officials have already visited Palpur –Kuna and found the habitat there suitable for the Cheetah, he said, adding the Cheetah translocation programme would cost over Rs 30 crore in MP.

`The translocation will take some more months. It cannot be an overnight affair," Pabla added.

Wildlife experts say Palpur-Kuna, spread over an area of 344 sq km, has a conducive habitat for the Cheetah. The animal would not find difficult to run, given that the sanctuary does not have a dense forest, they added.

Thirteen cheetahs, the fastest land animals on earth, will be flown in from Namibia to the Palpur-Kuna sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh after the forest department gets the import licence

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