Biodiversity
PROJECT CHEETAH: Becoming Blunt?

PROJECT CHEETAH: Becoming Blunt?

It becomes apparent that approximately 15% of the animals failed to survive the initial stage of India’s ambitious Project Cheetah. The goal is to create a self-sustaining group of roughly 35 cheetahs within the following ten years by transporting a small number annually from Africa. As a result, it’s understood that numerous deaths may occur among the animals, taking into account both the typical lifespan of cheetahs and the difficulties of acclimatizing to Indian circumstances. Therefore, it would not be appropriate to determine the success or failure of PROJECT CHEETAH.

Project Cheetah 

The Indian government has launched Project Cheetah, which aims to reintroduce the extinct cheetah species into the country’s forests. This program, known as the world’s first inter-continental large wild carnivore translocation project, will revitalize India’s wildlife. The cheetah, the fastest land animal, was declared extinct in India in 1952. To restore the open forest and grassland ecosystem, eight cheetahs, consisting of five females and three males, have been brought from Namibia. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently tweeted that these cheetahs, which are native to Africa and Central Iran, will be released into Kuna National Park in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday.

source: Twitter

Over the past eight years, a comprehensive set of actions has been implemented to promote sustainability and environmental preservation. This endeavour to reintroduce cheetahs has also raised expectations for the revival of open forest and grassland ecosystems.

How will Cheetahs help in revitalizing Indian Habitat?

Releasing wild cheetahs into Kuno National Park is a crucial component of a broader effort to rejuvenate and expand India’s wildlife and natural habitats. These spotted felines will aid in the conservation of biodiversity and the enhancement of ecosystem services such as water security, carbon sequestration, and soil moisture retention, resulting in numerous advantages for human survival.

Furthermore, in Hindu culture, cheetahs have a significant role in mythology, representing grandeur, power, beauty, fierceness, and courage.

Challenges for Project Cheetah

Project Cheetah
Image Source: AffairsCloud.com

Climate change has been identified as one of the primary factors responsible for the cheetah’s extinction. Despite its international recognition, the effort to reintroduce cheetahs is fraught with various difficulties. One of the major threats to the species’ survival is competition with other predators of similar size, as well as human activities.

According to African experts, adult cheetahs are vulnerable to leopard attacks, while cheetah cubs are preyed upon by spotted hyenas. Kuno National Park, where the cheetahs are being introduced, has a leopard population of nine per 100 square kilometres.

Given these circumstances, the Indian government has implemented several measures to ensure the safety and protection of the cheetahs. In collaboration with forest officials, two elephants have been brought from the Satpura Tiger Reserve to safeguard the African cheetahs.

Snap judgement at Project Cheetah

The managers of Project Cheetah emphasize that investing in measures such as ensuring there is enough prey in the habitat, seeking advice from experts in cheetah management in Namibia and South Africa, and following cultural practices that discourage poaching and encourage local communities to protect cheetahs, are the appropriate steps to promote the species’ growth. 

About three months have elapsed since South Africa dispatched a group of 12 cheetahs to India, and two of them have already perished. Coupled with the death of one of the eight cheetahs from Namibia, which had a pre-existing kidney infection, it becomes apparent that approximately 15% of the animals failed to survive the initial stage of India’s ambitious Project Cheetah.

The goal is to create a self-sustaining group of roughly 35 cheetahs within the following ten years by transporting a small number annually from Africa. As a result, it’s understood that numerous deaths may occur among the animals, taking into account both the typical lifespan of cheetahs and the difficulties of acclimatizing to Indian circumstances.

As the relocation program is considered an experimental initiative, it’s essential not to perceive each birth or death as a measure of success or failure. Nevertheless, specific standards with deadlines must be established to guide project managers in determining when corrective action is necessary.

Typically, it’s necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of wildlife breeding programs over extended periods. Consequently, it’s too early to make a determination about the success of the cheetah relocation project. Nevertheless, the transportation of the cheetahs to India was an extraordinary occurrence.

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