Eight officials and experts will oversee the cheetahs during the mission.
Eight officials and experts will oversee the cheetahs during the mission.

Rescued female, siblings among India-bound cheetahs

The government declared the cheetah extinct in the country in 1952.

NEW DELHI: A malnourished female cheetah nursed back to health by farm workers and two brothers who hunt together as a team are among the eight big cats being brought from Namibia to reintroduce the species in India.

The large carnivore got completely wiped out from India due to their use for coursing, sport hunting, over-hunting and habitat loss. The government declared the cheetah extinct in the country in 1952.

Starting in the 1970s, the efforts of the Indian government to re-establish the species in its historical ranges in the country led to the signing of a pact with Namibia, which is donating the first eight individuals to launch the Cheetah reintroduction programme, on July 20 this year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to release the spotted felines -- five females and three males -- into the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh on his birthday on September 17.

As part of the first-of-its-kind transcontinental mission, the cheetahs will head for India in a customised Boeing 747-400 aircraft from Namibia’s capital Windhoek, travelling overnight and reaching Jaipur on the morning of Saturday, September 17. They will then be flown to their new home -- Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh -- in helicopters.

According to the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), an international not-for-profit organisation headquartered in Namibia and dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild, the five female cheetahs are aged between two years and five years and the male cheetahs are aged between 4.5 years and 5.5 years.

The mission has been designated as a “flagged expedition” by the Explorers Club, an American-based international multidisciplinary professional society with the goal of promoting scientific exploration.

Eight officials and experts will oversee the cheetahs during the mission. At the KNP, the PM will release the cheetahs, aged four to six years, in smaller quarantine enclosures where they will be kept for 30 days.

They will then be released in a six-sq km predator-proof holding facility with nine compartments.

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