An article on the Cheetah issue.
New Delhi – After a gap of 60 years, cheetahs may make a comeback in Indian jungles with three potential African nations giving a nod to the idea of trans-locating the animal in this country.
After a week-end visit to Cape Town to take part in a climate change meeting, India's Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh says the African cheetah could be brought to India within the next three years.
“We have zeroed in on South Africa, Namibia and Kenya and we are talking to all of them…So I took this opportunity to visit the Cheetah Outreach near Cape Town,” says Ramesh said.
“The South Africans have the best technical expertise,” he added.
“South Africa is willing to give cheetahs to India,” Ramesh said. “Now, we have the option of getting the animals from South Africa, Kenya and Namibia,” he added.
The cheetah is the only large mammal to become extinct in India in the last millennium, according to Ramesh, who is on a mission to reintroduce the animal in central India — even though the tiger lobby in India is skeptical about the idea.
“They say 'if you can't look after the tiger, how will you protect the cheetah?',” Ramesh said. “I believe that just as the tiger is a symbol of the forest habitat, the cheetah symbolises our vanishing grasslands…It's a valuable icon.”
The Wildlife Institute of India is spearheading the project, and will unveil a road map and destination for the African cheetahs — possible options are in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.
The minister said that by May this year the ministry will have a detailed survey on feasibility of re-introduction of cheetahs in the country.
The survey, that will form the basis for the roadmap, is being carried out by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), located in Dehra Dun city, in collaboration with the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and the state governments concerned, reports in the Indian media said.
"The survey is being conducted in six locations - three in Madhya Pradesh, two in Rajasthan and one in Gujarat," Ramesh has been quoted as saying.
The environment ministry last year gave the go-ahead to draft a detailed roadmap for the Cheetah Re-introduction Project, proposed by the WTI, and endorsed by wildlife experts.
On the sidelines of the just-concluded climate change meet in Cape Town, India and South Africa — the two countries on Monday released a joint statement, pledging support to tackle climate change as part of the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) group — also discussed re-introduction of cheetahs in this country.
After a meeting between Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh and his South African counterpart Buyelwa Sonjica, the latter has consented to part with cheetahs, extinct in Indian forests, for the re-introduction program, reports in the Indian media said.
The western Indian state of Gujarat, the home to the Asiatic lions, has also says it is keen on reintroducing Asiatic-type cheetahs from Iran in its jungles..
S.K. Nanda, Principal Secretary, Forests and Environment of the Gujarat state government, has been quoted by the Hindu newspaper last week as saying that that Iran was the only country where the Asiatic cheetahs were still found.
But the problem is that the numbers in Iran too had dwindled to less than a hundred.
It was highly unlikely that Iran would agree to part with the animals, but “we are still making efforts to save the animals from becoming extinct,” according to Nanda.
Pradeep Khanna, Gujarat state Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, said the state had managed to get two pairs of African cheetahs and kept them in the Sakkarbagh zoo in Junagadh district for breeding in captivity. But “it is a very shy species, so far showing no signs of breeding.”
He did not indicate when the local government got the animals and from which nation in Africa.
The last cheetah in the wild was said to have been shot in the Reva area of Madhya Pradesh state in the 1940s.
Taken from http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/s...les-again.html