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African cheetahs will soon be spotted in India thanks to Namibia deal – South Asia News News – Report by AFR

India and Namibia signed a deal on Wednesday to bring cheetahs to the South Asian country. The first batch of eight feral cats is due to arrive next month, officials said.

India has been working on relocating the animals since 2020, when the Supreme Court announced African cheetahs could be introduced on a trial basis in a “carefully chosen location”.

India has had Asiatic cheetahs in the past, but the species was officially declared extinct in the country in 1952.

The deal, signed on Wednesday, will see Namibia’s African cheetahs flown in next month to a wildlife sanctuary in the central state of Madhya Pradesh for captive breeding – a move expected to coincide with celebrations of India’s 75th Independence Day.

“The conclusion of 75 glorious years of independence with the restoration of India’s fastest terrestrial flagship species, the cheetah, will reignite the ecological dynamism of the landscape,” tweeted India’s Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav.

“Cheetah reintroduction would also significantly improve long-term livelihoods of local communities through ecotourism prospects.”

The agreement, signed in New Delhi with Namibia’s Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, also sees the two countries working together on climate change, waste and wildlife management.

Kuno Palpur National Park in the state of Madhya Pradesh was chosen as the new home for the cheetahs as it has plentiful prey and grassland found suitable for the cats.

“The main objective of the cheetah reintroduction project is to establish a viable cheetah metapopulation in India that will enable the cheetah to fulfill its functional role as a top predator,” the environment ministry said in a statement.

The cheetah is the only large carnivore believed to be extinct in India, largely due to predation for its distinctive, spotted pelts and habitat loss.

It is widely believed that Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo killed the last three recorded cheetahs in India in the late 1940s.

India also plans to ship some cheetahs from South Africa, but a formal pact has yet to be signed.

Listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the cheetah has a declining population of fewer than 7,000 animals, mostly found in African savannas.

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