India, South Africa sign MoU to introduce 12 African Cheetahs annually over next eight to ten years

Tags: International News

India and South Africa on 27 January signed a Memorandum of Understanding to introduce 12 African Cheetahs annually over the next eight to ten year.

An overview of the news

  • As per the agreement, an initial batch of 12 cheetahs will be brought from South Africa to India during February 2023.

  • These cheetahs will be joined by eight cheetahs brought to India from Namibia during 2022.

  • Increasing the cheetah population is a priority for the Government of India and its conservation will have important and far-reaching consequences, aiming to achieve a number of ecological objectives.

  • After the import of 12 cheetahs in February, there are plans to move 12 cheetahs annually for the next 8 to 10 years.

  • The initiative to reintroduce the cheetah to India comes after a request from the Indian government, after the species had become locally extinct due to over-hunting and habitat loss.

Reintroduction Action Plan 

  • Reintroduction of a species means releasing it in an area where it is capable of surviving.

  • Under the scheme, 50 cheetahs will be released in various national parks of the country over a period of 5 years.

Extinction of cheetahs 

  • The last cheetah of the country was found dead in the year 1947 in Chhattisgarh and in the year 1952 it was declared extinct in the country.

  • Habitat loss, conflict with humans, poaching and high susceptibility to diseases are the major causes of their extinction.

About ‘Project Cheetah’ 

  • This is a one of its kind project in which a species is being brought out of the country (from South Africa / Namibia) and restored to the country.

  • The subspecies of the extinct cheetah in India was the Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) and the subspecies of the cheetah being brought back to the country is the African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus).

  • Research has shown that the genes of both these subspecies are similar.

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