Twelve cheetahs brought from South Africa to the Kuno National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh two days ago have been served their first meal in their new home, an official said on Monday.
The seven male and five female felines, brought as part of the Indian government's ambitious cheetah reintroduction programme, were served 65 to 70 kg of buffalo meat at around 5.30 pm on Sunday in the 10 quarantine bomas and they ate it all, KNP Divisional Forest Officer PK Verma told PTI.
Before being brought to India on Saturday, they were fed at around 6 am on February 15 at the bomas in Rooiberg and Phinda Reserves in South Africa, officials said. The 12 cheetahs brought on Saturday will be kept in the quarantine enclosures for at least a month before they are moved into the acclimatisation enclosures. A decision on it will be taken by the task force on cheetahs, they said.
According to experts, the cheetahs go in for the kill once in three to four days. They eat the prey fast at one go, fearing other predators like leopards might snatch it. On the other side, a tiger eats its prey patiently and leaves it for another day, they said.
The second batch 12 cheetahs was on Saturday brought to the KNP from South Africa. On September 17 last year, the first group of eight cheetahs from Namibia was released into the KNP at a function by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The 20 cheetahs in the KNP include 10 males and as many females.
Their inter-continental translocation is part of the Indian government's programme to reintroduce the cheetahs in the country seven decades after they became extinct.
The country's last cheetah died in Koriya district of present day Chhattisgarh in 1947 and the species was declared extinct in 1952. The KNP is situated on the northern side of Vidhyachal mountains and is spread across more than 700 square km.