India and South Africa have agreed to import 12 cheetahs from South Africa as part of India’s cheetah translocation project. The two countries have signed a Memorandum of Understanding under which India will receive 12 cheetahs in February 2023. The cheetahs will be flown in from South Africa and will join the eight cheetahs that were brought from Namibia to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh last year.
Reintroducing cheetahs to their historic range in India is considered a top conservation priority, with potential positive impacts on the local economy and people’s livelihoods. The plan is to translocate another 12 cheetahs every year for the next 8-10 years after the initial import of 12 in February.
India’s environment minister, Bhupendra Yadav, called the agreement an “encouraging development” for the cheetah reintroduction project and highlighted that it aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to make it a top conservation priority for his government.
In a press release, Albi Modise, media in-charge for South Africa’s forestry, fisheries, and environment ministry, stated that the initiative to reintroduce cheetahs to a former range state is being carried out in response to a request received from the government of the Republic of India, following the local extinction of the iconic species due to overhunting and habitat loss in the last century.
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