'How can we call it reintroduction of cheetahs?,' asks wildlife biologist
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'How can we call it reintroduction of cheetahs?,' asks wildlife biologist

"India was home to Asiatic Cheetahs and we are introducing African Cheetahs, so it's not the same"

'How can we call it reintroduction of cheetahs?,' asks wildlife biologist

On one hand, it is an achievement. After 70 years, cheetahs can be seen on Indian land once again. Eight African cheetahs from Nambia have been introduced in Kuno Palpur National Park, Madhya Pradesh. This would be the new home for the male and female cheetahs. However, after the celebrations are over, one might pause to think of the feasibility of the decision. 

Faiyaz Khudsar, senior scientist at the Biodiversity Parks Programme, CEMDE, University of Delhi, who was a researcher at Kuno National park asks a pertinent question. He says, "The first thing is that this is not a 'reintroduction of cheetahs' but an introduction. India was home to Asiatic Cheetahs in 1947 and this time, we are introducing African Cheetahs, so it is not the same."

After a survey on ten sites across Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh in 2010 and 2012 by the Wildlife Institute of India, Kuno was found to be the best fit. Kuno was the most preferred habitat based on climatic variables, prey densities, the population of competing predators, and the historical range. The less human interaction near the place and vast area for considered good for the cats to exercise their power of speed.

On this, Faiyaz says, "The fact that animals have been seen in Kuno for a long time suggests that the climate is unfavourable. Moreover, Kuno was prepared for Gujrat lions so it can't be said for sure how the species is going to adapt to the environment."

After the introduction of the cheetahs, it is also said that the initiative would bring a boost to tourism. As per the statements, the park would be open to the public after some months. The environmental enthusiast says, "To this point, we don't know how well the species would adjust to the location. The question of opening to the public is a far dream according to me. The animals should be given proper time to adjust and adapt." 

Kuno national park is very close to the Sal forests of Koriya, now in Chhattisgarh, where the native Asiatic Cheetah was perhaps last spotted almost 70 years ago.