Welcome Cheetahs! but will they survive?


Rama Krishna Sangem

On September 17, Saturday, 8 Cheetahs – 5 female, 3 male – will enter jungles of India, after a gap of of 75 years. They will enter Kuno National Park, north Madhya Pradesh. These fastest running – up to 130 km per hour – land animals are brought from Namibia, Africa, by a specially designed Boeing 717 cargo aircraft to Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. From there, they will be taken in a helicopter to Kuno National Park.

PM Narendra Modi who celebrates his 72nd birthday on September 17, will formally release these Cheetahs into wild at 10.30 am on the day. The presence of PM Modi at the Cheetahs reintroduction in India indicates the significance of the project, estimated at Rs 51 crore, sponsored by Indian Oil. But, the project started in 2009, when Congress led UPA was in power at the Centre.

Once upon a time, India prided itself as a land of Cheetahs. Mughal emperor Akbar was seen by some foreign travelers with some pet Cheetahs. After that some Maharajahs were found in possession of Cheetahs, admired for their speed. In 1948, a Cheetah was found dead in now Chhattisgarh region, though officially the government declared the animal as extinct in India in 1952. 

However, some wildlife experts dispute on this. They say, Cheetahs disappeared from Indian subcontinent much before that. Though Asiatic Cheetahs were here abundant in numbers, they were hunted down by the Maharajahs and others, thus eliminating them from our geography. They argue that the Cheetahs now brought from Africa are different from our own ones – as they were genealogically separated some 10,000 years ago.

In India, we have lions, tigers, leopards – all in our reserved forest or conservation parks. Till now, we don’t have Cheetahs – which are symbols of fastness on land. They can reach 0 to 60 km per hour speed within 3 seconds. Faster than most sports cars.  There was a burning desire in Indian wildlife experts to bring them back from South Africa.

Elaborate arrangements are made at Kuno National Park for these Cheetahs. As many as 24 villages have been shifted from the forest and relocated for the convenience of Cheetahs. Dozens of other small animals were introduced into the park, as food for Cheetahs. Arrangements are also made to protect these Cheetahs from other wild animals – some are more dangerous – as well as our notorious hunters.

It took about 13- 15 years to bring them back really. Legal battles were witnessed in our Supreme Court, while some arguing against procedural hurdles, others questioned the appropriateness of the very project. Even now, doubts are there about their survival in India. Our forest laws are strict, but our forest officials are not that strict in protecting our jungles. We need to watch how these young Cheetahs from Africa make India as their home.

If they survive and expand their families in India, then we may bring some more Cheetahs from Africa. Very soon, our children may visit Kuno National Park to see Cheetahs. Let’s welcome these 8 Cheetahs.

Rama Krishna Sangem

Ramakrishna chief editor of excel India online magazine and website

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Chief Editor

Rama Krishna Sangem

Excel India national news magazine is a media startup founded and piloted by Rama Krishna Sangem, a Hyderabad based senior journalist with over three decade experience in the field of media, mostly in print journalism. His rich experience in reporting for both Telugu and English newspapers and heading a TV news channel and some online outfits will be of immense use to this venture. Excel India English news magazine seeks to fill the gap of analytical understanding to our readers who today are confronted with myriad media platforms. Our online version not only offers regular updates and commentary on happenings around us, but also gives larger stories not limited by space constraints of a print magazine. Excel India is ably run by a team of senior journalists committed to values and quality standards in the profession. We urge you all to support and guide us in this endeavour. Reach us at excelindiaweb123@gmail.com