Cheetahs Return

Cheetahs Return

SHEOPUR (MP): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday expressed gratitude towards Namibia for the latter’s cooperation vis-à-vis reintroduction of cheetahs in India after a hiatus lasting decades. Modi released three Namibian cheetahs in this district’s Kuno National Park – a historic and world-level event marking his 72nd birthday.

The translocation of these animals is synonymous with the forceful rejuvenation of India’s nature-loving sentiment, the Prime Miniser underlined, adding that the nation’s rapid emergence in the 21st century disseminates a global message that economy and ecology are not at cross purposes with each other, implying that the country’s progress can be achieved in tandem with safeguarding the environment.

‘Prakriti, paryavaran, pashu aur pakshi’ (nature, environment, animals and birds) constitute the very basis of Indian spirituality and sensitivity,” he emphasised.

Project Cheetah

Eight cheetahs (five females and three males), brought from Namibia, are being introduced in India under Project Cheetah, which is the world’s first inter-continental large wild carnivore translocation project.These big cats reached India after covering a distance of 8,000 kilometres in 20 consecutive hours. Radio collars have been strapped on all the cheetahs to be monitored through a satellite. A dedicated monitoring team behind each cheetah will monitor their movements around the clock.

History of African Cheetah in Maharashtra

An experiment was successful 80 years ago when a freedom fighter introduced African Cheetahs to Maharashtra. Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj brought cheetahs from Africa to Kolhapur. For almost forty years, the army of these cheetahs roamed in Sukhenaiv Vihar of Rajashraya in Kolhapur.

Cheetah declared extinct in 1952

In 1952, the Jawarhal Lal Nehru government declared the world’s fastest land animal extinct. The carnivores were completely wiped out from the country due to their use for coursing, sports hunting, overhunting, and habitat loss. As per IFS Praveen Kaswan, the last three cheetahs were hunted by Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo, King of Koriya (Chhattisgarh), in 1947. All three cheetahs were adults of similar measurements of 6 feet 4-5 inches, and all hunted at night.Preparations to bring extinct cheetahs back to India kick-started during the Congress government.

The then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi initiated a plan to bring cheetahs from Iran to India. The government demanded cheetahs from Iran in exchange for India’s tigers. Indira Gandhi also signed an agreement with the Shah of Iran. However, after the regime change in Iran, Shah’s regime fell, and the project collapsed.

Leopard vs cheetah

The most common difference between these two animals is their coat. A leopard has rosettes which are rose-like markings, and cheetahs have a solid round or oval spot shape.Cheetahs are immediately identifiable by the black tear line that runs down their face. This line runs from the inside of the eye down towards their mouth. While cheetahs prefer to hunt in the day, leopards hunt at night (but will also occasionally hunt in the day if an opportunity presents itself). Leopards have large number of light-sensitive cells in their eyes that detect fewer colours but allow them to detect movement and shape easily in the dark, giving them an advantage.

Cheetahs can reach speeds of up to 120 km/h and have the ability to accelerate from 0 to 103 km/h in three seconds - faster than most sports cars. When chasing down prey at top speed, cheetahs use their long tails to counterbalance themselves; in doing so, they can change direction very quickly while on the hunt.

Leopards, on the other hand, reach a top speed of about 58 km/h (37 mph), but what they lack in speed, they make up for with other abilities. They have retractable claws that allow them to be superb climbers.

Know the big cat

There are approximately 7,100 cheetahs in the world. The planet’s fastest land animal is built for super speed rather than stamina. When they do stir, cheetahs accelerate faster than most sports cars.

The name cheetah comes from a Hindi word, Chita, meaning ‘spotted one’. Cheetahs have a unique social life among cats. Unlike most cats, the cheetah mainly hunts during the day.In ancient Egypt, a cheetah was considered sacred and a symbol of royalty.

Special facilities at Kuno National Park

Based on the assessments of the Wildlife Institute of India and the Wildlife Trust of India, Kuno National Park was found suitable for cheetahs due to its climatic condition, predator population, and prey densities.

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