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Wildlife safaris are about to be a lot more exciting as cheetahs might soon be a part of India’s biodiversity. The Supreme Court of India has given the green light to National Tiger Conservation Authority’s (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs in India. The cheetahs will be brought from Namibia in Africa. These wild cats were last seen in the country in the 60s. The bench included CJI S.A. Bobde, Justice B. R. Gavai, and Justice Surya Kant, who mentioned that the cheetahs must be brought on an experimental basis first to decipher the effects of a changed habitat. Additionally, a survey was ordered on locations that could potentially be the new homes for these mammals—Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh is most likely to be selected.
Cheetahs have been marked as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In fact, only 7,100 of cheetahs are in existence, almost all of them in Africa.
Cheetahs once resided in India, but diminished in numbers due to poaching and man-animal conflicts. The 50 Asiatic cheetahs left can now be found in Iran.
According to news reports, many conservationists are worried about the hasty decision that may lead to rehabilitation of these animals into semi-captive environments such as open-air zoos. They are concerned that the cheetahs will not be able to roam in open space, as they should. Additionally, in the past, India’s plans of reintroducing animals have had ups and downs—Lions introduced in Chandraprabha sanctuary in northern UP in 1950s went extinct due to poaching.
However, the leading conservationists on this assignment have ensured that the animals will be brought after thoroughly surveying potential environments.
Former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has expressed approval through his tweet:
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.— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) January 28, 2020
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