What constitutes the news?

Eight African cheetahs are slated to relocate from Namibia to the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh on September 17. According to PMO, the PM will release the five female and three male cheetahs into the park's quarantine enclosures as part of his attempts to revitalize and diversify the country's wildlife and habitat.

About the Cheetahs

The last cheetah in India died in 1947 in the Korea district of what is now Chhattisgarh, which was once part of Madhya Pradesh, and the species was declared extinct in India in 1952. According to studies, the cheetah has lost 90% of its global habitat in the previous 100 years. Furthermore, several of the 31 cheetah populations have barely 100-200 individuals remaining, and their environment is eroding. The "African Cheetah Introduction Project in India' was developed in 2009, with the goal of introducing the big cat in Kuno National Park by November of last year, but it was thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

How Cheetahs will be presented to India:

The cheetahs will board a modified Boeing 747-400 plane in Namibia's capital, Windhoek, and arrive in Gwalior after an overnight flight of 10 hours and 8,000 kilometers. The cats will subsequently be transported by an Indian Air Force (IAF) Chinook heavy-lift chopper from Gwalior to Kuno National Park (KNP). The cheetahs, aged four to six years, will not be sedated for the trip. They will be fed two to three days before the flight and will be accompanied by three vets on board. Action Aviation sourced the plane transporting the animals from a UAE-based aviation firm. Its snout bears the image of a tiger.

What is its significance?

Dr. Laurie Marker, an advisor to the Indian government on the cheetah relocation project for over 12 years, stated that this is the first time a trans-continental effort of this magnitude has taken off. Because the cheetah has been extinct in some countries as a result of human activities, it is our obligation to guarantee that it is reintroduced and conserved. Of course, the ideal situation would be to save animals because reintroduction is a tough and time-consuming operation.

What are the various issues connected to it?

Leopards have been observed preying on cheetahs in Africa, and similar concerns have been made for Kuno, where about 50 leopards are held in the same region. As per experts, the cheetah is an extremely sensitive species that avoids violence while remaining a target for other animals. Leopards, hyenas, wolves, bears, and wild dogs can pose a significant threat to cheetah babies in Kuno. In 2013, researchers discovered that cheetah babies in Africa's Kgalagadi Park have just a 36% probability of surviving. Predatory animals are the primary cause of their cubs' deaths.