October 3, 2022
Cheetah Project: Cheetahs have arrived, now what will happen next

Cheetah Project in MP: The real work will begin after the arrival of 8 cheetahs from Namibia in Kuno. The plan is to keep the male and female in separate but adjacent cages so that they can get to know each other before release. The quarantine enclosure will be stocked with natural prey. To ensure that cheetahs become accustomed to hunting Indian prey species before their release in the open. Male cheetahs with radio collars will be released first.

The project’s action plan states that the presence of female cheetahs in the enclosure will ensure that males do not wander too far. In the next phase, radio collared female cheetahs will be released 1-4 weeks after the male cheetahs. It depends on how the male cheetahs adjust to the new environment. If an animal enters an undesirable environment, it will be brought back. If all goes well, the cheetah population should reach its limit of 21 within Kuno in about 15 years.

During this period, some other smaller cheetah enclaves will be built in Rajasthan and elsewhere in Madhya Pradesh. The supply of cheetahs from Africa will continue for at least five years and for a maximum of 10 years. The boundaries of the Kuno National Park will be secured through appropriate fencing, if necessary, at least during the initial years. Once the greater Kuno landscape is protected and restored, the largest population of cheetahs is projected to go up to 36 in 30-40 years.

The population feasibility analysis of the project has shown a high potential for long-term cheetah concentration. The major solution for steadily increasing the cheetah population is to adopt the South African model that periodically transfers individual animals from one fenced reserve to another in order to maintain genetic diversity. Creating and maintaining small populations of cheetahs from place to place is said to be not very practical. The biggest challenge facing conservation in India is how to protect the cheetah population from human intervention.

The Cheetah Project also promises to benefit endangered species such as the endangered Indian wolf and the near-extinct Indian bustard (GIB). Kuno is apparently getting Cheetah to host grassland ecosystem services. Lions can be introduced to Kuno after the cheetah population has settled. Project Lion is also an important scheme of India. At present, the lions are limited to Gir in Gujarat, while all efforts were made to settle them in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, but politics got ruined in all. Conservators of wildlife are worried that now the expansion of lions may not be left behind.

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