Only 7100 cheetahs are left in the wild, of which almost all are in Africa.
Efforts are currently underway to re-introduce African cheetahs to India, 70 years after it was declared extinct in the country. The Supreme Court in January gave its approval to introduce the species to suitable habitat in the South Asian country on an experimental basis to find out if it could adapt to Indian conditions. According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), cheetahs are an endangered species, reports BBC. Only 7100 cheetahs are left in the wild, of which almost all are in Africa. Meanwhile, the Asiatic cheetah — which once roamed parts of India — is now only found in Iran where there are only about 50 are believed to be left.
#ExpressExplained | What are the global trends in cheetah population, now around 7,000? If India goes ahead with its plan to reintroduce the cheetah, what will be the factors at play? An Expert Explainshttps://t.co/aYlfQycLjN— Express Explained (@ieexplained) February 29, 2020
The cheetah was declared extinct from India in 1952, reports FirstPost, after it was essentially hunted to extinction. According to studies, at least 200 cheetahs are believed to have been killed — mostly by sheep and goat herders — in India during the colonial period. It is the only large mammal to become extinct after the country gained independence in 1947 and wildlife officials, cheetah experts, and conservationists from all over the world have long been discussing the prospect of reintroducing the spotted big cat to India.
Running Cheetahs are the most majestic sight in the wild. India is planning to reintroduce African sp which occupies only 6% of it’s historical Range now. In India, Asiatic Cheetah was last sighted in 1951 in Koriya district. Pray for success of reintroduction in India.🙏🏼🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/BUHUZNOh9o— Susanta Nanda IFS (@susantananda3) February 4, 2020
While many have agreed that there is a strong case for it, some leading conservationists have harbored doubts about the execution of the same. They've voiced concerns that in its haste to bring back the animal, India might house them in semi-captive conditions in huge, secured open-air zoos rather than the ideal case of allowing them to live free in the wild. Without restoring habitat and prey base and taking into account the high chances of a man-animal conflict, viable cheetah populations cannot be successfully established, said those in opposition to the plan. They also pointed out India's chequered record of reintroducing animals to the wild.
Endangered cheetahs can return to Indian forests - court— ken crichlow (@ken_crichlow) January 29, 2020
Only 7,100 cheetahs are left in the wild, almost all of them in Africa.
The Asiatic cheetah, which once roamed parts of India, is now only found in Iran, where there are thought to be ~50 left. https://t.co/jHgSaayeoq
However, conservationists who have led the initiative insist that there is nothing to worry about and that a decision will only be taken after shortlisted sites are fully examined to address all these concerns. And they seem to be keeping their word as earlier this month, experts from the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India reportedly visited four places in Madhya Pradesh to look for the best habitat for the reintroduction of cheetah in the country. A senior forest official revealed that the WII team visited the Kuno Palpur sanctuary in MP's Sheopur district, the Nauradehi sanctuary in Sagar district, the Gandhi Sagar sanctuary on the northern boundary of Mandsaur and Neemuch districts, and the Madhav National Park in Shivpuri district to determine their viability for the initiative.
India to reintroduce cheetahs to the wild more than 70 years after species became extinct https://t.co/MF9Y3YFh96— V (@AgentSaffron) January 28, 2020
"WII's faculty of wildlife science dean Dr. Y V Jhala and two other scientists inspected the four places to evaluate whether these habitats are conducive for cheetahs," said Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, wildlife wing, J S Chauhan. "Madhya Pradesh had in the past been home to cheetahs. The state has a long conservation history; we have the habitat. We also have a successful trans-location record," he added, referring to the tiger reintroduction program in the Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) in 2009.
The country's last cheetah was hunted in Chhattisgarh in 1947, and the cheetah was declared extinct in India in 1952.@DevrupaRakshithttps://t.co/nWuVMvXv6l— TheSwaddle (@TheSwaddle) December 16, 2020
"For the cheetah re-introduction, many things stand in our favor. We have already written to the central government that we are very much interested [in the plan]," said Chauhan. India's former environment minister Jairam Ramesh welcomed the decision to reintroduce the animal in the country, tweeting: "Delighted that Supreme Court has just given OK to reintroducing cheetah from Namibia. This was something I had initiated 10 years ago. Cheetah which derives from the Sanskrit 'chitra' (speckled) is the only mammal hunted to extinction in modern India."
Sharing a 2011 news report on the steps taken to reintroduce Cheetah back then. I urge the government of the day to move ahead with implementation atleast now.https://t.co/f4WFKPJzCd— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) January 28, 2020